Heroes of the Zeroes is Nick Rogers’ daily, alphabetical look back at the 365 best films of 2000 to 2009.
In 2007, even casual news junkies knew where Kabul sat on the map. But in a 1980s era of Teletypes — long before terrorism’s permanent stamp on American life — Kabul easily could’ve been mistaken for a city in Uzbekistan or even India.
Congressman Charlie Wilson turned Afghanistan into his mission — inspiration striking while naked in a Vegas hot tub surrounded by strippers and cocaine.
Mike Nichols’ 2007 film told a chronologically cautionary tale of political playmaking amid international tensions. A playboy politician (Tom Hanks), a rich Texan belle (Julia Roberts) and a misanthropic CIA agent named Gust (Philip Seymour Hoffman) collaborated to increase America’s aid to Afghanistan’s Russia-fighting rebels by almost 10,000 percent.
Aaron Sorkin electrically condenses George Crile’s book into 98 efficient minutes of acidic humor, sobering reality and off-book operations, pitched more as a farcical comedy than a forceful condemnation.
There’s nothing covert about Hoffman burgling the film, though. However, to Gust, each profane, unfiltered rant serves as serious commentary. That proves crucial once the long-term ramifications of pumping money and missiles into a hostile region piece together. After all, there is a reason we all now know so much about Kabul.
As a power play against a seemingly eternal Soviet enemy, Wilson had his peers’ ears. But once the state-sponsored revolution was televised, the luster came off, and we know where those good intentions led. The chilling end-quote of Charlie Wilson’s War succinctly sums up how ideology, infantry and political disinterest have come back to haunt our nation.