Charlie Wilson's War


Generally favorable reviews - based on 39 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 33 out of 39
  2. Negative: 1 out of 39

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Critic Reviews

  1. 90
    More of a hoot than any picture dealing with the bloody, protracted fight between the Soviet Army and the Afghan mujahedeen has any right to be.
  2. 90
    The two actors (Hanks/Seymour Hoffman) have terrific chemistry and riff off one another like partners in a veteran comedy team.
  3. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    A picture about war and politics that has manages to be both rational and inspirational. It is also the year's funniest smart movie.
  4. 88
    With its rapid pace, smart screenplay, and top-notch acting, this is one of the 2007 Oscar season's most appealing and compelling adult motion pictures.
  5. Hanks has a good time, romping around with the assurance of a holy fool. He and Roberts seem "actorish," putting on accents and mannerisms, but they're entertaining. Hoffman is something more, a scenery-devouring force of nature irresistible as a cyclone and irreverent as a stand-up comedian at a midnight show.
  6. It's all about a likable scoundrel who discovers what it means to act out of conviction. The film's underlying twist, though, is tartly ironic.
  7. A witty, literate, wryly sophisticated parable of American politics: just the kind of movie that Hollywood, in its search for the global audience, supposedly doesn't make anymore.
  8. 83
    Philip Seymour Hoffman steals the movie.
  9. 83
    You don't often hear critics gripe that a movie isn't long or explicit enough, but Sorkin and Nichols could have gone the extra lap or so to show that Wilson's saga is more than just a story of a good ol' boy accidentally pulling off a remarkable coup; it's a sobering account of the geopolitical hijinks that gave shape to our current world.
  10. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    Charlie Wilson's War is that rare Hollywood commodity these days: a smart, sophisticated entertainment for grownups.
  11. 80
    Dark and funny and mean and sexy, damned near pitch-black-perfect considering that at the end of this boozy comedy you wind up with, oh, Osama bin Laden.
  12. This movie probably gets the Washington process better than any since Otto Preminger's underrated "Advise & Consent" in 1962. It's not about men of virtue doing the impossible, but men of flaws doing the doable, but just barely.
  13. 80
    Philip Seymour Hoffman utters one of the year's most refreshing lines in this terrific tale of political wheeling and dealing.
  14. 80
    Extremely enjoyable. Although it’s a little tonally unsure, whenever Hanks and Hoffman are on screen, any misgivings are forgiven.
  15. 75
    Rude, crude and hilarious, whether he's hitting on Joanne or brokering the sale of Soviet weapons through Israel and Islamic Pakistan, Hoffman is the film's sparking live wire.
  16. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    This is definitely the year of Philip Seymour Hoffman.In Charlie Wilson's War, he and Tom Hanks make a particularly sharp and engaging duo, bouncing clever lines off each other as if it were a verbal ping-pong match.
  17. 75
    You might think Tom Hanks is miscast as the lovable sinner. Dennis Quaid, maybe, or Woody Harrelson. But Hanks brings something unique to the role.
  18. 75
    This is first and foremost a farce, not unlike Nichols' "The Birdcage."
  19. Takes a kernel of truth and roasts it into a popcorn movie. There's terrific fun to be had, and much wry comedy too. What's missing, surprisingly given the subject matter, is any real sense of gravity.
  20. It's nice to watch a political movie that, for a change, isn't trying to save our souls. It's possible to have a good time with this movie while, at the same time, regretting all that it isn't.
  21. Of all the Middle East-theme movies this season, Mike Nichols' Charlie Wilson's War is the least political and most entertaining. That doesn't mean it's great, just that it's unimportant.
  22. 75
    Has a crackling, almost farcical pace, even though its subject matter could not be more serious or complex.
  23. Like Sorkin's D.C.-set TV series, "West Wing," his script for Charlie Wilson's War is full of rapid-fire badinage, with movers and shakers moving smart and shaking snappy as a squad of aides trot along behind, briefcases and coffee cups in tow. A decade - not to mention a war - never went by so quickly.
  24. 75
    With 20/20 9/11 hindsight, it's clear that covertly arming the Mujahedeen wasn’t such a good idea after all, but neither Nichols nor Sorkin wants to spoil the fun.
  25. Reviewed by: Glenn Kenny
    Julia Roberts has never played a dowager before, but heaven knows she makes a good, and funny, one.
  26. In this film, directed by Mike Nichols in one of his most satirical moods and scripted by Hollywood's most politically astute writer Aaron Sorkin, a womanizing, alcoholic, easily tempted bachelor gets elected in a Texas district that doesn't care what he does as long as he brings home the bacon.
  27. Reviewed by: David Ansen
    Of course, hanging over this ironic tale is the deeper historical irony--that many of the "good guy" rebels Charlie is funding (and we're cheering) will become our mortal enemies...It's as if "Titanic" ended with a celebratory shipboard banquet, followed by a postscript: by the way, it sank.
  28. 70
    It packs political machination, helicopter gunships, single-malt whiskey, Las Vegas, Islamabad, naked butts, and eight years of war. The film, adapted from George Crile’s book, doesn’t always work, but it sure offers value for money.
  29. 70
    Watching Charlie Wilson’s War is like sitting through a very long episode of "The West Wing."
  30. Reviewed by: Dana Stevens
    A funny, sprightly tribute to the American can-do spirit, with a bleak ending that suggests that our plucky protagonist may have just dug his own (or, in this case, his country's) grave.
  31. Philip Seymour Hoffman carries the movie. As the CIA operative who hates Communists and his myopic superiors in equal measure, he has a wily, don’t-give-a-shit drive that makes you wish he’d been in Baghdad in 2003.
  32. 67
    Nichols succeeds in spinning an entertaining yarn, but the cautionary aspects feel fatally undernourished.
  33. It is well made as far as it goes. I wish it went beyond its own carefully prescribed limits of the commercially acceptable.
  34. 50
    Is, in its way, an apolitical comedy about politics. Or at least a naïve one, since those weapons likely eventually made their way into the hands of Al Qaeda.
  35. Wall Street Journal
    Reviewed by: Joe Morgenstern
    It's a fascinating story, but Mr. Nichols and his actors never stop reminding us how fascinating it is. With the exception of Mr. Hoffman, a master of understatement, everyone acts up a storm, yet context is lacking.
  36. Perhaps there was some confusion – should we play this as a lark or a lesson in geopolitical unrest? – or maybe there was some studio involvement to defang the politics; whatever the case, the noncommittal Charlie Wilson's War treads a good-natured but yawning in-between.
  37. Overall, Charlie Wilson's War is glib rather than witty, one of those films that comes off as being more pleased with itself than it has a right to be. It also suffers from being not all of a piece, with mismatched elements struggling to cohere.
  38. 30
    As creator and head writer of "The West Wing," Aaron Sorkin had a gift for making policy debate seem sexy, but what worked in the context of that liberal fantasy founders badly amid the realpolitik of this cold war drama.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 123 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 42 out of 54
  2. Negative: 1 out of 54
  1. May 16, 2014
    Besides oversimplifying serious and complex subject matters, Charlie Wilson's War brings a unique style of filmmaking that mixes comedy andBesides oversimplifying serious and complex subject matters, Charlie Wilson's War brings a unique style of filmmaking that mixes comedy and seriousness in a way that becomes fun. Full Review »
  2. May 29, 2012
    First and foremost, Charlie Wilson's War is extremely well-performed, with Tom Hanks giving his best performance in years as the TexasFirst and foremost, Charlie Wilson's War is extremely well-performed, with Tom Hanks giving his best performance in years as the Texas Congressman who transforms from an irresponsible playboy scumbag to a moralistic defender of Afghanistan. Julia Roberts also impresses as Joanne Herring, a manipulative and religious socialite, as does Philip Seymour Hoffman playing the maverick CIA operative Gust Avrakotos. Aaron Sorkin's script is an absolute joy, full of fun, energy and satire not only of the past, but the present as well. It's really a wonder why the events shown are not more widely known about, or heavily appropriated for film, as "the largest covert operation in history" makes for cinematic gold. Everyone thinks of this fascinating period of history as simply another war (albeit without actual military engagements) between the USA and the USSR, and it's easy to forget how many other countries were drawn into this conflict between two superpowers. The film does attempt to address this oversight in cinema, and its hugely gratifying to witness lesser-known history on the big screen. The finale is a little generic and disappointing in comparison to the rest of the film, and you could certainly ccuse director Mike Nichols and Sorkin for presenting a rather rose-tinted view of the controversial Wilson. Though the congressman's intentions may have been noble, you cannot ignore the fact that he lent substantial support to groups and individuals whose intentions were decidedly less so. Romanticised though it may be for the sake of empathy and dramatic resonance, the film is still an enjoyable insight into an extraordinary figure in the history of international politics, and a fitting and intelligent tribute to a man who many remember with much admiration. Full Review »
  3. Apr 26, 2016
    This movie is fantastic. I've watched it several times already. Quite a history lesson on the workings of our Government.

    Watch it online
    This movie is fantastic. I've watched it several times already. Quite a history lesson on the workings of our Government.

    Watch it online for free:
    Full Review »