In the Eighties, Texas congressman Charlie Wilson quietly funded a covert CIA operation to equip Afghanistan with missile launchers and other weapons to help them fight the invading Soviets. Few people in the U.S. government even knew about it, despite about a billion dollars being funneled into the effort.
This incredible but true story is told in “Charlie Wilson’s War.” If nothing else, the political dramedy is rich in star power, with Tom Hanks gamely playing the good-ol’-boy, womanizing Wilson; an in-over-her-head Julia Roberts as a socialite who counts as one of his revolving bed partners; and a top-notch Philip Seymour Hoffman as a disgruntled and quick-tempered CIA officer who aids Wilson in his funding fight.
Mike Nichols directs with a look that purposely makes the film appear as if it were made during that era, but all his good intentions are hampered by Aaron Sorkin’s screenplay. It’s awash in dense D.C. lingo that neuters the satire of much of its bite. If he had stopped trying to demonstrate how smart he is, he might have realized he forgot to pen an ending.