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  • Writer's pictureJames Rutherford

'Charlie Wilson's War': A Savvy Rendition of Early U.S. Intervention in the Afghan–Soviet War

Movie poster for Charlie Wilson's War (2007)

Charlie Wilson's War (2007) is a razor-sharp Cold War-era comedy-drama starring Tom Hanks as Texas Congressman Charlie Wilson, an impassioned supporter of Afghanistan in its ongoing war with the Soviet Union. Beginning in 1980, the storyline follows the efforts of wealthy socialite and activist Joanne Herring (Julia Roberts) to persuade Wilson to help increase funding to the Mujahideen in the wake of Soviets atrocities.

A renowned bon vivant, Charlie's interest in supporting the Afghanis is bolstered by his visit to a Pakistan-based refugee camp—the physical horrors he witnesses moving the Congressman deeply. In an effort to increase U.S. support of the Afghans' struggle, Wilson partners with recusant CIA operative Gust Avrakotos (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and his team to supply Afghan guerrillas with FIM-92 Stinger missile launchers. A precipitous turn in U.S. foreign policy, Wilson's efforts ultimately become the basis for Ronald Regan's "Reagan Doctrine" dedicated to defiance of Soviet-supported aggression on a global level.

Adapted by celebrated screenwriter Aaron Sorkin from George Crile's book Charlie Wilson's War: The Extraordinary Story of the Largest Covert Operation in History, and directed by legendary filmmaker Mike Nichols (Catch-22, The Graduate), Charlie Wilson's War is an astute and drolly amusing escapade. Hoffman steals the show as the the brusque intelligence specialist with an acerbic sense of propriety—his scenes providing comical gilt to this eye-opening tale of historical intercession.


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