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Charlie Wilson's War

Waged by amiable actors
By GERALD PEARY  |  December 19, 2007
2.5 2.5 Stars
Tom Hanks

For a time, Charlie Wilson’s War gets by on the amiability of Tom Hanks as the coke-snorting, womanizing Texas congressman who, a crazy-quilt combo of James Bond and Hugh Hefner, was the secret force behind the mujahadeen’s driving the Soviets out of Afghanistan in the 1980s. But George Crile’s fascinating 500-pages-plus book about Wilson’s extra-legal covert military campaign has been reduced to a shallow 97 minutes by Mike Nichols. The international intrigue becomes strained satire — what’s needed is the comic touch of a Billy Wilder. More distressing is the virulent anti-Communism of the venture: “Kill the Russians!” is a refrain of the right-leaning characters, and their sentiment seems to be endorsed by Nichols and screenwriter Aaron Sorkin. The supporting players are splendid, however, among them Philip Seymour Hoffman as a déclassé CIA operative and Julia Roberts as a millionairess with international connections. 97 minutes | Boston Common + Fenway + Fresh Pond + Circle/Chestnut Hill + suburbs
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