Ryan Chartrand

Adapted from George Crile’s 2003 book, “Charlie Wilson’s War: The Extraordinary Story of the Largest Covert Operation in History,” and directed by Mike Nichols, the film tells the story of how Charlie Wilson, a congressman from Texas, led the struggle to indirectly provide arms and funding to the Afghan Mujahideen, ultimately defeating the Soviets and their occupation in Afghanistan.

“Charlie Wilson’s War” is a whirlwind of political facts and a glimpse at how our country was governed before most current students were conscious of world affairs or even born.

The movie begins by demonstrating to the audience why Wilson (Tom Hanks) is known as “Good Time Charlie.” Wilson is in Las Vegas, hanging out with naked strippers and talking business, when he sees Dan Rather on a news broadcast in a turban describing the situation in Afghanistan. From that moment, Wilson becomes increasingly intrigued by the Soviet-occupied country.

Hanks is amazing as the womanizing congressman from Texas. His black cowboy boots ooze male charisma as women throw themselves at him, while men want to befriend him and help his cause.

When a meeting arises between Wilson and anti-communist love interest Joanne Herring (Julia Roberts), she urges him to get involved and visit the refugee camps in Pakistan. Upon seeing the destruction and the people’s willingness to fight, Wilson decides he wants to help them.

Wilson then hits a wall when he discovers the CIA’s low-profile approach to the situation. Since it is during the Cold War, a blatant action by the United States could cause major repercussions.

Enter Gust Avrakotos (Philip Seymour Hoffman), a bad-ass CIA agent who goes against authority. Avrakotos leads the understaffed Afghanistan team, who helps Wilson find support and ways to destroy the Soviets without getting the U.S. directly involved.

The movie is loaded with historical facts and is not a fast-paced, Soviet-killing thriller. It forces the audience to think about the past and what could have happened if Wilson had not been involved and helped to change the Reagan Doctrine, which aided countries in anti-communist resistance movements.

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