Review: Charlie Wilson’s War (2007)

In the second of my reviews of Philip Seymour Hoffman films, this may not be one that when considered it inherently brings to mind Hoffman, it’s much more likely to be Tom Hanks, but nevertheless it is a film in which he takes an important role and not one to be overlooked. Directed by Mike Nichols, a biographical story about U.S. Congressman Charlie Wilson (Hanks) and C.I.A. operative Gust Avrakotos (Hoffman) in their role of the Soviet-Afghan War. Though this film is of course politically charged, it really feels more like an underdog story with some heroic non-hero characters.

Generally this isn’t a film you hear about very often, it was not an overwhelming success on its release and does not fall into any genre that gets the majority of attention, so it would be easy to miss but it shouldn’t be. With a character whose anger and dedication are great to show off Hoffman’s skills as an actor, the timing of his lines and insubordinate outbursts versus actual moments of caring about the issue at hand are conducted extremely well. Hanks on the other hand is much more memorable due to the very outgoing and charming personality of Charlie Wilson; and his daily hi-jinks of early morning drinking and determination to surround himself with employees of the attractive female variety, much to his advantage as they’re also very bright women. Julia Roberts and Amy Adams (a frequent collaborator of Hoffman) take the lead for the fairer sex, the former playing a socialite and politically involved Southern Christian woman with a certain amount of pull around town and the latter playing Wilson’s assistant and general lackey. Both women being fantastic actresses but here though they play their parts, it’s nothing to scream about and won’t find their way into any career highlights anytime soon.

The story itself is one that’s not necessarily complicated and certainly does lean heavily on its political element, yet there’s something about it that’s indiscernible. The story has a lot of heart and that underdog selfless spirit that hits emotions like brick but overall it still feels slightly empty which is possibly intentional based on the flow of the story; though it does slightly dampen its impact. This is a film that has a fairly cheesy DVD cover/poster which slightly asks to be dismissed as something inconsequential and unimportant when it’s actually decent. As a performance of Hoffman it’s not one to be overlooked, and as a whole it is one well worth checking out.

Verdict: 7/10

Next up: The Savages


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