charlie wilson's war (2007)
Charlie Wilson's War turns out to be just what the trailers make it look like: a smirky, wink-filled Oscar-bait picture featuring top-notch acting, some clever writing and some very nice direction from veteran Mike Nichols. What the trailers don't tell you is that you're not going to give a damn about any of that when you see the film itself. It's the kind of film you should care about, (mostly for the talent involved and the hot political "issues" it deals with) but won't at all. All in all it's a film that was actually summarized very nicely by its trailer, those of you hoping to gain new insights by actually seeing the flick can save your cash.
So yeah, it's a dud. I feel kind of bad shrugging it off like that since there really is so much excellent work put into the thing. Oh well, better luck next time, right? Nichols just needs to really center himself and turn out something with resonance like he did in 2004 with Closer, that film was a kind of a dark switch for him (at least to my knowledge, his only other film I've seen besides that was The Graduate, which I love), and this one is much lighter. Not to say it doesn't have its sights set on resonance and a "higher purpose" of informing and teaching its audience, but the satirical edge that I was expecting to be so sharp was inexplicably dull. It's an entire film about a Texas congressman trying to raise money to help Afghanistan fight back against the Soviet Union. Of course he raises it, if he didn't they wouldn't have made a movie about it, and so where exactly does this plot have to go? Is there some kind of new revelation about our country or about people in general as we watch him raise the money? No, there really isn't. The movie's main message is "hindsight is 20/20", we know now the ultimate outcome of these events and it is decidedly not good, when viewed through this lens it adds a paper-thin layer that still can't justify taking the time to see this picture. This thing is a slim and brisk 90-minutes and I'm telling you, I thought it was 2 and 1/2 hours, this film drags like crazy. I'm not sure much could have been done to save this picture with a plot that so literally dies after about 10 minutes. The only real point the film has to make comes in the last 5 minutes when we realize -surprise!- our nation's government hasn't always been real scrupulous when it comes to their policies in the middle east. Turn on the news, for free I might add, and you'll see the same thing. Why spend $10 and 90 minutes seeing Tom Hanks and Phillip Seymour Hoffman dramatize it for you. Hanks, by the way, does a great job with this character, making him likeable from the start. The character could have easily come off as a buffoon, but we identify with him due to the nuances in Hanks' performance, we see a man only trying to do what he believes is right. Hoffman hams it up for the camera, it's a good performance, but we see him acting a bit too much rather than letting himself slip into the character as Hanks does. I'd like to comment on Julia Roberts performance but the fact is there ain't much of it to comment on. She's in a surprisingly small amount of the flick and doesn't really do much of anything. Honestly, Amy Adams and the slew of young hot chicks who seem to be constantly at Charlie's side for the entire pic make much more of an impression. Especially Adams, just throwing that out there.
So Charlie Wilson's War, a Mike Nichols film,. not worth seeing. That's the basic point we are all here to discuss today. Honestly this review is a lot like the film, I told you everything I had to say in the opening paragraph, you know not to see the movie and the few remarks I make hereafter will only slightly elaborate on that point and not really add much to validate my argument. I can say that the film's look and overall tone are appealing, deep rich colors fill the screen, the blues stuck out most to me, who the hell knows why. See this was the kind of stuff I was forced to pay attention to because the film was boring me so damn much. blues. forget that, I want to be wowed by some kind of filmmaking skill or interesting subtext, not the quality of the film stock and color correction. A slew of appealing women catch your eye at every turn but what does this tell me about Charlie Wilson? Did he dazzle his compatriots with the eye-candy of women and the emotional tug of seeing children wounded in attacks? Of course he did, just as Nichols does with us to gain our sympathies. His tongue is in cheek and that's what's important, we can see it's all one big satire for the most part, but where's the fun? I wasn't laughing and I wasn't thinking, satire should at least accomplish one of those two things. The film does not. And so when I really take a look back at this thing I realize that it accomplished next to nothing. It's tough to hate on something when there's clearly a lot of good talent mixed in, but the experience is less for the sum of its parts. This film is sorely lacking anything to hold our interest and that's all that can be said. Bravo to the actors, even the writing (where the dialogue is concerned anyway) is snappy and inventive, I say that Nichols does what he can, but something is missed and its that special something that makes a picture watchable. So don't see the movie, simple as that.