Charlie Wilson’s War

Rated 4.0

In the 1980s, a fun-loving, high-living Texas congressman (Tom Hanks) forms an unlikely alliance with a right-wing socialite (Julia Roberts) and a maverick CIA agent (Philip Seymour Hoffman) to funnel covert aid through Pakistan to Afghanistan’s mujahideen fighting against the invading Soviet Army. Aaron Sorkin’s fact-based script (adapted from the book by George Crile) is sharp, smart and funny—and, for once, nearly devoid of Sorkin’s simpering aren’t-I-a-clever-writer subtext (director Mike Nichols may have exercised a tempering influence on Sorkin’s usual self-satisfaction). Nichols zeroes in on his actors’ strengths, with the result that performances seem utterly effortless; Roberts especially has never seemed less like a movie star and more like a real actress. Amy Adams shines as Hanks’ aide.