Charlie Wilsons War

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4 out of 5
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Well produced but not perfect

on 7/1/2011

"Charlie Wilson's War" tells an interesting tale, and production quality is good, but I found it uninvolving despite good performances by Hanks, Roberts, and - especially - Philip Seymour Hoffman. Much of the time I felt as if I were watching through a plate glass window: able to see what was going on, but feeling little or no connection to the players or the events. If this chapter in U.S. history interests you, or if you are a fan of the three lead actors, it's worth watching, but I would not put it on the top of my "must see" list

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Product Overview

A drama based on a texas congressman charlie wilson's covert dealings in afghanistan, where his efforts to assist rebels in their war with the soviets have some unforeseen and long-reaching effects.


Studio Universal
SKU 207544964
UPC 025195004848
UPC 14 00025195004848
Format DVD
Release Date 1/3/2010
Rating Rating
Cold War
Theatrical Release
True Story
Editors Note
Note The first time the audience sees Texas congressman Charlie Wilson (Tom Hanks) in the early 1980s, he seems far from a model politician. Surrounded by strippers, a Playboy Playmate, and cocaine, the naked congressman lies in a hot tub at a party. Despite the distractions, the TV news catches Charlie's attention as Dan Rather reports from a war-torn Afghanistan. As Soviets invade the country, the Afghans lack the money and technology to defend themselves. Enter Joanne Herring (Julia Roberts), a wealthy Texan who champions the cause of Afghanistan and, by extension in the Cold War, America. Together with CIA Agent Gust Avrakotos (Philip Seymour Hoffman), Charlie begins a secret war where he must unite Israel, Pakistan, Egypt, and America to defeat the Soviets. ^Just as director Mike Nichols brought a sense of fun to what should have been dour proceedings in films such as THE GRADUATE and CLOSER, this comedy about the largest covert war to date never feels like a history lesson. Writer Aaron Sorkin's dialogue is as sharp as fans have come to expect, and it's delivered with impressive verve from the film's trio of Oscar winners. Hoffman is famous for transforming into various characters, and he's remarkable, but it's Hanks's turn that's the most surprising. Outwardly, Charlie could resemble many of Hanks's previous roles, but the actor adds layers to the character and changes without the aid of makeup or prosthetics. Based on a true story as written by George Crile, the script for CHARLIE WILSON'S WAR displays all the trademark wit of Sorkin's writing. As in Sorkin's other work, notably THE WEST WING and THE AMERICAN PRESIDENT, the characters in CHARLIE WILSON'S WAR display a fierce love of their country. The screenwriter's own politics often rise to the surface, but this smart comedy never feels preachy.
New York Times "It's quite a yarn, and the filmmakers relate it with clarity and verve....[There is] a bracing, cheering present-day moral to be found in Charlie Wilson's story, a reminder that high principles are not incompatible with the pleasure principle." 12/21/2007
Entertainment Weekly "[I]t's all about a likable scoundrel who discovers what it means to act out of conviction....A journalistic satire of realpolitik..." -- Grade: B 12/21/2007 p.56
Total Film 3 stars out of 5 -- " [Hoffman is] sly, bumptious and brilliant...He brings Gust such gusto that the energy level spikes whenever he's on screen." 01/01/2008 p.48
Rolling Stone 3 stars out of 4 -- "Hoffman is the film's sparkling live wire." 12/27/2007 p.123
Uncut 4 stars out of 5 -- "[T]he tone is sophisticated and the handling is remarkably light and adept." 02/01/2008 p.109
Empire 4 stars out of 5 -- "[I]t's during the sparkling exchanges between the leads that the movie takes off. Hanks infuses Wilson with a bounce of charm we haven't seen from him in years.' 02/01/2008 p.42
Sight and Sound "The material certainly works as satire. The dialogue -- trademark Sorkin -- is all quickfire and smart, with witty wordplay that harks back to the screwball comedies of the 1930s and 1940s." 03/01/2008 p.61
Mike Nichols
Philip Seymour Hoffman
Julia Roberts
Tom Hanks
Cast & Crew
Aaron Sorkin - Screenplay
Amy Adams - Actor
Antonia Van Drimmelen - Editor
Emily Blunt - Actor
George Crile - Based On Book By
James Newton Howard - Original Music By
John Bloom - Editor
Julia Roberts - Actor
Maria-Teresa Barbasso, et. al. - Art Director
Mike Nichols - Director
Ned Beatty - Actor
Paul A. Levin - Executive Producer
Philip Seymour Hoffman - Actor
Shiri Appleby - Actor
Stephen Goldblatt - Cinematographer
Terry Bozeman - Actor
Tom Hanks - Producer
Tom Hanks - Actor
Victor Kempster - Production Designer
Technical Info
Original Release Date 2007
Catalog ID 61100566
UPC 00025195004848
Number of Discs 1
Running Time 102 minutes
Color Color
Original Language English
Available Subtitles English, French, Spanish
Available Audio Tracks English, French Dubbed, Spanish Dubbed
Aspect Ratio
Anamorphic Widescreen  1.85:1
Nominee (2008) British Academy Awards, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Best Supporting Actor,Golden Globe, Charlie Wilson's War, Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy,Golden Globe, Tom Hanks, Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy,Golden Globe, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture,Golden Globe, Julia Roberts, Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture,Golden Globe, Aaron Sorkin, Best Screenplay - Motion Picture,Oscar, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role
ReviewSource ReelViews
Review It's a curious thing. Whenever this much talent is assembled for a motion picture, the result inevitably seems to be a letdown. And to say that Charlie Wilson's War is topheavy with talent is to understate the matter. The cast features three Oscar winners and two nominees. The director has been nominated five times and won once. The writer is a multiple Emmy winner. The cinematographer has a couple of Oscar nominations and the composer has six. Almost against the odds, however, Charlie Wilson's War does not collapse under the weight of expectations. In fact, it meets them squarely without flinching. With its rapid pace, smart screenplay, and top-notch acting, this is one of the 2007 Oscar season's most appealing and compelling adult motion pictures...With so many movies working on auto-pilot, it's easy to forget the pleasure of a well-written screenplay, and even easier to forget how good things can be when a director of Mike Nichols' pedigree brings the script to life. The film has it all: suspense, drama, and humor...From start to finish, Charlie Wilson's War is an unrelieved delight, and it works even better for those who understand the bridges that took us from the withdrawal of the Soviet Union from Afghanistan to 9/11 and beyond.
Reviewer James Berardinelli
ReviewRating 9
ReviewSource Chicago Sun-Times
Review You might think Tom Hanks is miscast as the lovable sinner. Dennis Quaid, maybe, or Woody Harrelson. But Hanks brings something unique to the role: He plays a man spinning his wheels, bored with the girls and parties, looking for something to bring meaning to his slog through the federal bureaucracy. He and Gust (a perfect name) are well-matched. "Do you drink?" he asks the CIA man on their first meeting. "Oh, God, yes." Gust has been fighting for years to budge the CIA on Afghanistan, and now the right congressman falls into his hands...Nichols fills the edges of the screen with unforced humor. There are "Charlie's Angels," Wilson's office staff of buxom young women, all of them smart. There's Charlie's special assistant Bonnie, played by the lovable, fresh-faced Amy Adams ("Junebug," "Enchanted"), who cleans up after him, gives him good advice, keeps his schedule, and adores him. And there is the presence of Hoffman himself, a smoldering volcano of frustration and unspent knowledge. It's hard to see how Charlie could have ended the Cold War without him, and impossible to see how Gust and Bonnie could have ended it without him. The next time you hear about Reagan ending it, ask yourself if he ever heard of Charlie Wilson.
Reviewer Roger Ebert
ReviewRating 8
DVD, Widescreen, English, Spanish, French, Dolby, Dolby Digital (5.1)
Product Attributes
Video Format DVD
Michael Sragow, Baltimore Sun Philip Seymour Hoffman steals the movie.
Peter Travers, Rolling Stone Rude, crude and hilarious...Hoffman is the film's sparking live wire.
Rick Kisonak, Film Threat ...[Hanks and Hoffman] have terrific chemistry and riff off one another like partners in a veteran comedy team.
Shawn Levy, Portland Oregonian ...a sobering account of the geopolitical hijinks that gave shape to our current world.
Stephanie Zacharek, ...[a] terrific tale of political wheeling and dealing.
Todd McCarthy, Variety ...a smart, sophisticated entertainment for grownups.
William Arnold, Seattle Post-Intelligencer A witty, literate, wryly sophisticated parable of American politics...

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Well produced but not perfect on Jul 01, 2011