CHARLIE WILSON'S WAR is the story of a Congressman (Tom Hanks), a Texas socialite (Julia Roberts), and a CIA operative (Philip Seymour Hoffman) who worked together to fund the Afghan battle against the Soviets in the '80s.
The three lead actors are all excellent. Hanks plays a hard-living, hard-drinking man who, despite his flaws, manages to accomplish something significant. Roberts is quite striking playing a wealthy, confident woman who looks notably unlike any other character Roberts has played. Hoffman was particularly intriguing as the rough-edged, sarcastic CIA man who knows his stuff but isn't appreciated at the agency.
It's a good movie about a relatively obscure topic, marred only by the gratuitous use of profane language. Even if the real people actually spoke that way, hearing the same word over and over is boring and uncreative; it loses all meaning.
On a more positive note, many of the Washington scenes had the feel of THE WEST WING, a series I liked. So it was amusing to get to the end credits and realize for the first time that the screenplay was by THE WEST WING's Aaron Sorkin. Much of the movie plays like THE WEST WING, with some excellent humor and fast-paced "walk and talk" scenes. If only the filmmakers had had more faith in the substance of their material and toned down the language...
Ever-delightful Amy Adams heads the supporting cast as Wilson's assistant. The cast also includes Emily Blunt (an interesting actress completely wasted here), Ned Beatty, and John Slattery.
The movie was directed by Mike Nichols. The runtime is 97-102 minutes, depending on the source consulted.
Parental advisory: This film is rated R for language as well as (totally unnecessary) brief nudity.
CHARLIE WILSON'S WAR is available on DVD. The minimal extras include a good "making of" featurette about 17 minutes long.
Despite my reservations, this was a worthwhile film which I'm glad I ordered from Netflix.