In 1980, U.S Representative Charlie Wilson, a bachelor and Democrat from Texas, is more interested in parties, women, cocaine and having a good time in general. His office is shown to be staffed by buxom women, all tripping over each other to please him. When he is finally pulled up for Congressional misconduct, it is his long-time friend and some-times lover Joanne Herring, (whom he has a soft spot for) who convinces him to utilize his time and energy into helping the poor war riddled country of Afghanistan.
Joanne Herring, having been a TV talk show host has contacts she utilizes to arrange a meeting between the Pakistani dictator General Zia and Charlie. They arrange for Charlie to go see the refugee camps which are in horrible condition. Charlie returns to the U.S wanting to do something to help the Afghanis fight off Russia. He meets a CIA agent, Gust Avrakotos who has been hunting for a congressman to help him fund their covert cause against Russia. Having found Charlie, Gust is pleased and together they form a good pair.
Charlie discusses the issue of wanting to supply arms to Afghanistan without the other party knowing that U.S had a hand in this operation. Gust knows just the Israeli who will help them supply Soviet made anti-aircraft missiles. However, with only a meager $5 million being supplied to Afghanistan by the U.S as aid, they can’t do anything. Finally having found some purpose, Charlie starts doing what he does best, i.e. hankering about the Congress for funds. He manages to raise a billion a year to support the Afghanis.
Eventually, because of his efforts, the secret funding, the personal diplomacy and a Texas belly dancer flown to Cairo, they manage to pull off a deal to help provide arms to Afghanistan which in turns makes them able to fight off the Soviet. In history this was later known as the Reagan Doctrine, as it was under Reagan’s Presidency. The U.S had started supporting other anti-communist efforts across the globe.
However, once Charlie decides to announce measures to help a post-soviet Afghanistan with the help of Gust, he finds that there is no response from the Congress. And even though he receives a major commendation from the U.S for his support in clandestine services, he is worried that his secret efforts could in the future have terrible consequences. Which is exactly what happened – the freedom fighters became what we now know and dread as the Taliban.
While Tom Hanks may initially not seem to be the apt choice to play the maverick Charlie Wilson, you soon realize that he is completely appropriate for the role. Tom Hanks can pull off Charlie Wilson’s gradual decline of interest in parties and girls, and as someone looking to do something meaningful which he would actually be good at. With 5 Golden Globe nominations, the movie is interesting with brilliant performances by suitably cast actors.