Charlie Wilson’s War Review


Charlie Wilson

Charlie Wilson was a congressman, not a usual congressman but one who loved the high life of using his name and intrepid personality to get the things he wanted.

Charlie Wilson is best known for leading the support for the largest CIA covert operation in Afghanistan against the Soviets. In the summer of 1980, Charlie Wilson read an Associated Press dispatch on the wire that gave him information about hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing from Afghanistan in to surrounding countries. Notably the American Government were not paying much attention to this and Wilson contacted a member of the US Congressional Appropriates Committee and asked him to double the amount of money that was going into CIA Black-Ops.


The movie is portrayed as a true story of how the unusual congressman Charlie Wilson, a CIA agent called Gust Avrakotos, played by Philip Seymour Hoffman (who understood his job and the need to do it no matter what) and Houston socialite Joanne Herring played by Julia Roberts worked together to lead the largest, successful covert operation in history. (Not that it was that covert mind)

The effort of these three people consequently brought about the fall of the Soviet Union war in Afghanistan and ended the Cold War. The efforts also have caused some of the problems in that part of the world today.

The three couldn’t have done it by themselves and travel the world to form partnerships and deals with other countries, Pakistan, Israel and Egypt and with arms dealers also.

Charlie Wilson?s War

Charlie Wilson ended up increasing the CIA budget for the fight against the Soviets in Afghanistan considerably and in 1983 won approval adding another $40 Million, with £17 million marked to go straight in to buying anti-aircraft weapons to “bring down the helicopters”, the Soviet Mil Mi-24 Hind aircraft that were causing so much damage and death across Afghanistan. Gust asked Charlie to try and get more money and subsequently managed to gain another $50 million for the cause. In the end the total amount reached somewhere close to $500 million.


With a unique comical twist to an actual history lesson it was ok, it’s not going to be one of my favourites for this year and I will not be buying it on DVD. It does however give an excellent insight in to how the trouble in Afghanistan was started originally. This is the way the world works and things happen because people think it is a good idea at the time. For every action there is a re-action.

Philip Seymour Hoffman was the highlight in this movie and was really funny, if he hadn’t been it in to add some comedy to the whole thing I think it would have been a pretty good flop. Don’t expect miracles from this movie as you are not going to get them, if you are interested in history then go for it, if you are looking for a war movie forget it and wait up for Rambo at the end of the month.

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Lead Interaction Designer at DigitalDWP. Organiser of Industry, The Practical Web Conference..