How the heck did I not hear about this movie? We only got it as part of our Moviestar list and left it unwatched for ages. Amazing movie which I already want to watch again. Two words - Aaron Sorkin.
For some bizarre reason I thought this was going to be some sort of soldier movie, I somehow had missed all the reviews. Tom Hanks tends to alternate between garbage and greatness. Within minutes we had realised that this was the latter.
The plot is very straightforward. An unremarkable congressman from Texas, who is owed favours by everyone on Capitol Hill, takes an interest in the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. He is a hard drinking, womanising professional networker. For the first time in his career he genuinely starts caring about something.
He discovers that the entire budget for covert ops into the region is $5m. He gets it doubled to 10. But then he discovers that far more is needed. By the end of the movie he has funnelled $500m into Afghanistan matched by another $500m from the Saudis.
But the plot is not why you watch this movie. It's the screenplay and the acting. I kept thinking "what a fantastic ensemble piece; what amazing dialogue; it's like a movie version of the West Wing". Of course I got to the end and who did I see in the credits? Aaron Sorkin! Now it all makes sense.
Whilst Hanks is on top form, my favourite actor of recent years, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, is absolutely on fire in the movie as the CIA station chief. He takes the great script and transforms his lines into something sublime. Laugh out loud funny. Even the usually weak Julia Roberts shines as the rich Texan Grand Dame who wants to save the Afghans from the godless Soviets.
Charlie Wilson's ability to network, to be everyone's friend, to work quid pro quo to the maximum, is just a joy to watch. The guy got the Israelis, Pakistanis, Egyptians and Saudis to work together! The quote from Zia of Pakistan is hilarious "if I see one fucking Star of David on those crates......".
I don't know how true to life this movie is, but I don't care. When I see how many bad movies have been made with some political point to make, it makes my heart glad to see pure qualty like this. Go git it now!