Time Out says
It’s a credit to the swagger, charm and easy arrogance of Tom Hanks’ performance as the maverick member of the US House of Representatives from Texas’ Second District who raised a cool $1 billion for covert action against the Russkies in 1980s Afghanistan that you almost forget that the booze fuelled, libidinous politico’s antics not only ‘brought down the Soviet Empire’ but also built up the Mujahideen, helped spawn Osama bin Laden, and contributed to our desperate present geo-political crisis. True, in his adaptation of George Crile’s best-selling ‘true story’, Mike Nichols does allow Wilson a teary-eyed speech in a refugee camp on the need to invest in the post-bellum peace but it’s obvious that the director is more fully at home cheerleading the power-plays between the dapper congressman and Julia Roberts’ bouffanted, right-wing Houston millionairess or keeping pace with the rattling parley in the corridors of Capitol Hill.
As swish, savvy and as self-entranced as Nichols’ earlier political satire ‘Primary Colors’, ‘Charlie Wilson’s War’ is less afraid of exaggeration and extravagance, allowing Philip Seymour Hoffman’s seemingly bewigged CIA boffin a grandstanding introduction destroying his superior’s glass office in petulance or indulging Hanks’ self-satisfied sexism to his little harem of ‘jailbait’ secretaries.
But if the film’s lack of real bite or requisite splashes of genuine acid keep it firmly in the limited bounds of slightly old-fashioned, liberal hearted light comedy, Aaron ‘The West Wing’ Sorkin’s snappy, sharp and sometimes sophisticated dialogue offers pleasures aplently, the performances are likeable and entertaining, while Nichols pumps the whole proceedings with a satisfyingly fluid, dramatic energy.
Cast and crew
Philip Seymour Hoffman