Wednesday, January 09, 2008

We f***ed up the endgame!

I had never heard of Charlie Wilson, prior to the hype generated by the movie, leave alone understood the primary role that he played in the end of the Cold War. I was aware of the wicked quadrangular interplay between US-Pakistan-Afghanistan and Russia, but the key strategic role of the womanizing Texan senator was somewhat baffling.

Charlie Wilson's War is a movie about forgotten glory. And more importantly, its a movie that makes you aghast at the irony that the US has historically created, staffed and fortified its enemies, prior to launching an offensive war on them. It does not dilute the cruciality that Charlie had in terms of allocating mammoth budgets to the initiative, nor does it overplay it by giving him a messiah-like status.

As you watch Tom Hanks slip deeper into the character of Wilson, one starts to realize that he is by far one of the greatest actors of our time. From Philadelphia, to Forrest Gump. From Saving Private Ryan, to Castaway. From Sleepless in Seattle, to The Terminal. Hanks defines versatility that legends are made of. Julia Roberts was unbelievably droll - completely not with it. Philip Seymour Hoffman - brilliant as always. Om Puri as ex-Pakistani president, Zia-Ul-Haq was interesting and adequate.

CWW is the kind of non-documentary that makes you rethink the mental image that you have of the past, and truly makes it leap out of the pages of your history books, and become a real story that is capable of being perceived, especially in light of the events of the last few years. The highlight of the movie are the last few definitive scenes, where Charlie strives to bring his epic work to closure. Its clear that he wanted America to seal the open wound that was post-war Afghanistan by building the foundation blocks of education and a non-corrupt political system. But its clear that this never happened. The well-equipped, military-trained country slipped into the ranks of religious fanaticism, causing the birth of the Taliban, and the mushrooming of Jihadist organizations that had a multiplier effect across the Middle East over the years, coming back to bite the US in the a$$ less than 2 decades later.

As Wilson puts it simply yet sadly in the ominous closing quote of the movie, before fade-to-black,

"These things happened. They were glorious and they changed the world".

"And then we went, and we f***ed up the endgame"

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