Movie Review: Charlie Wilson’s War (2007)

Hey there…

Had a chance to watch Charlie Wilson’s War last night. I avoided it at the theater when it was released because I wrongly assumed it was “just another Iraq or war-themed movie.” Boy was I wrong.

Charlie Wilson’s War is based on a book of the same name written by George Crile, documenting the involvement of Congressman Charlie Wilson in the first covert war in Afghanistan when we helped the Afghans get rid of the Russians invading from the north. Charlie Wilson, a Democratic Congressman from Texas and a man of many appetites, was urged by his friend and romantic interest Joanne Herring to help the plight of the Mujahadeen. Wilson began working with Gust Avrakotos, a maverick CIA agent, to get the Afghan Mujahadeen the weapons they needed to repel the Russians.


The plan involved getting Russian-made weapons to the Afghans as to avoid any unnecessary attention and an unwanted war between the Russians and the United States. To get these weapons, parties in Pakistan, Israel, and Egypt worked together to not only get the Afghans the weapons, but get them the training to use them.

Eventually the Mujahadeen were successful in kicking the Russians out of their country. But when Wilson went back to Congress to get a minute amount of what had been given to support the covert war to fund the building of schools in the war-ravaged Afghanistan, it was denied. As such, it laid the groundwork for the Taliban and pro-terrorist forces to begin to gather in number.

If Congress had listened to Wilson and given the money for the schools, would we be in the same situation we’re in today?

The movie was written by Aaron Sorkin and directed by Mike Nicholls. The cast was out of this world…

  • Tom Hanks as Charlie Wilson
  • Amy Adams as Bonnie Bach, Wilson’s Administrative Assistant
  • Julia Roberts as Joanne Herring
  • Philip Seymour Hoffman as Gust Avrakotos
  • Emily Blunt as Jane Liddle
  • Ned Beatty as Doc Long

And what got me was how timely this movie was. In a time when we had US troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, it was helpful to see how we got there. How did Afghanistan become the place where people would hail Osama Bin Laden as a hero? We now reap the seeds sown during this conflict in the 1980s.

Crile, Sorkin, and Nichols approached this movie with humor, but also with the gravitas that the situation needed it. It was expertly directed and the pacing was tremendous. Never once was I tempted to pause it and come back to it later, as I am so wont to do with movies today.

And Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Tom Hanks worked extremely well together. It’s great to see actors of that caliber doing something this important.

I think that Where in the World is Osama bin Laden and Charlie Wilson’s War should be required viewing by high schoolers so they understand how we screwed up the world they live in.

This was an excellent movie. I give it a sold 4 out of 4 stars and would urge you to see it if you haven’t already.

Until next time,


p.s. If you’d like to pick up the movie or the book, click the images below:

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  1. You mention that we are reaping in the Middle East what we sowed in the 80s, but I think it goes back significantly further than that what we are experiencing now.

    That area has had been dealing outside influences from Europe (among others) for centuries. That has to shape how they look upon any foreign intervention in their own affairs.

    A lot of the policies that the world has had in that area since the early 1900s plays a significant role in what is going on now, but even that is predated by other major events impacting that region. (Not that I want to use it at an example because there are plenty of other events to choose from, but the Crusades are an example of this.)

  2. Very true. European idiosyncracies being what they are, we seem to want to remake the world in a “western” way. And obviously that doesn’t always take.

  3. Yes, this movie looks interesting. Your blog is making my netflix queue grow too quick. I can’t keep up :)… Forged, nice thought out comment.

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