Charlie Wilson's War Mike Nichols

Charlie Wilson's War Mike Nichols
Much na-na-na-boo-boo was provoked by the revelation that non-starter Congressman Charlie Wilson was responsible for arming the Afghani Mujahideen and inadvertently setting the stage for 9/11. But the bizarre story deserves more thought than this smug kid gloves retelling can possibly generate. Tom Hanks plays the eponymous politico who after several terms of sloughing in office was uncharacteristically moved to help the resisting the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Where official Washington policy was to inadequately arm the rebels and walk away, our man decided to marshal his Machiavellian skills in an effort to bring together all manner of enemies in a united effort to train the rebels and hand them rocket launchers. But though his sneakiness managed to suck U.S. policy into backing his horse, the film’s ideological vacuum leaves us with no useful manner of dealing with his "achievement.” On the one hand, Wilson is a dangerous naïf who charges first and ponders the consequences when he feels like it. On the other hand, he’s a lovable womaniser whom we enjoy for his sensualist naughtiness. The work of phoney liberals Mike Nichols and Aaron Sorkin, the film becomes the spectacle of people in power doing big things, inevitably letting Wilson off the hook for too much and sort of suggesting that his part in weakening communism forgives all sins. I don’t know anyone who would consider this a slashing critique or even particularly funny; it’s a tepid, pseudo-satirical handwringer that’s as hard to like as it is easy to forget. The only extras are the standard, convivial "making of” clip and a lovey-dovey profile of Wilson that shows footage suggesting a far more bellicose personality than the Hugh Hefner teddy bear in the final cut. (Universal)