CHARLIE WILSON'S WAR *** Tom Hanks, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Julia Roberts; rated R (profanity, violence, nudity, drugs, vulgarity, brief sex, slurs, brief gore)
"Charlie Wilson's War" doesn't end that well. The movie, not the war itself. (That's not meant to spoil the film's plot, though to politically savvy viewers the outcome is fairly obvious.)
This fact-based comedy-drama does conclude rather abruptly, and the final third seems a bit rushed.
Also, it's a little peculiar to see supposed, PG-13 rated if not PG-rated actors such as Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts fit into an R-rated film like this one. (The film definitely earns the rating with its sexual language and material.)
Still, it is a mostly amusing film that features smart performances and even-smarter dialogue.
Director Mike Nichols and screenwriter Aaron Sorkin based the tale on a real-life person, a somewhat shady Texas congressman who was instrumental in helping Afghanistan rid itself of Communist Soviet invaders during the 1980s.
Hanks plays Wilson, who according to this version of events, had an on-again, off-again affair with Texas mover-and-shaker Joanne Herring (Roberts).
Joanne is the person who convinces Charlie to take an interest in Afghanistan. To that point, he'd been more interested in partying than doing anything earth-shaking.
A trip to the war-torn country is what clinches it for him. However, Charlie's efforts to help the Afghan rebels are fruitless until he meets Gust Avrakotos (Philip Seymour Hoffman), a disgraced CIA operative with some serious connections.
Nichols and "West Wing" creator Sorkin have obviously taken some liberties with the truth, and with George Crile's novel, upon which the movie is based.
But they're wise to keep the tone light for the most part, and both Hanks and Roberts look like they're having fun. And Hoffman steals nearly every scene he's in.
The fine supporting cast also includes Amy Adams as Charlie's assistant, and Ned Beatty as a veteran congressman."Charlie Wilson's War" is rated R for strong sexual language (profanity, vulgar slang terms and other suggestive talk), war violence (gunfire, explosive mayhem and some disturbing imagery), female and partial male nudity, drug content (narcotics use and references), brief sexual contact, slurs based on ethnicity and belief systems, and some brief gore. Running time: 97 minutes.