Charlie Wilson's War

The Virtues of Objectifying Women and Demonizing Commies -- 2.5 stars

Directed by Mike Nichols. December 2007, USA. Rated R: 102 min.

(Originally published in buzz magazine on 12/23/2007)

Tom Hanks is back in action after more than a year since his last movie, The Da Vinci Code. Thank God he lost the crappy haircut.

Charlie Wilson’s War begins with the most T&A of any Hanks film in recent memory, with Hanks talking business in a plush party suite surrounded by topless strippers. Has Hanks returned to his lady’s man character roots from the days of Bachelor Party (1984) and Volunteers (1985)? Not quite. In a Golden Globe-nominated film based on true events, Hanks stars as Charlie Wilson, a charismatic Texan who shmoozes his way into the House of Representatives and gets away with staffing his Washington office with pretty young girls that even he calls “jailbait.” A revelation strikes him in 1980 while watching TV in a hot tub full of naked women. He sees Dan Rather wearing a turban and reporting from war-torn Afghanistan, which somehow changes his life for good. Having conquered womankind, Wilson hatches a plan to defeat the evil Soviets. Why not arm Afghan refugees with missile launchers? Aided by funds from the sixth-richest woman in Texas (Julia Roberts) and the expertise of a jaded CIA agent (Philip Seymour Hoffman), Wilson manages to supply Afghans with enough firepower to force a Soviet retreat.

At its conclusion, the film points toward the present by quoting the real Charlie Wilson: “Those things happened. They were glorious, and they changed the world. And then we fucked up the endgame.” Basically, Wilson blames the government for not rebuilding Afghanistan because Afghans now use American-bought weapons against America. Duh, Charlie. Maybe you should have thought of that before spending millions of taxpayer dollars to have another country fight our wars for us.