Whiskey Tango Foxtrot
DIRECTOR: Glenn Ficarra, John Requa
RELEASE DATE: 03/04/2016
STARRING: Tina Fey, Martin Freeman, Margot Robbie, Alfred Molina,
Christopher Abbott, and Billy Bob Thornton.
Tina Fey effortlessly transitions from laughter to drama and delivers a film that’s distinctively unlike any she’s done before.
Chris Hedges, famous journalist and war correspondent once said, “The rush of battle is often a potent and lethal addiction, for war is a drug.” But what Chris failed to mention is this addiction to war is also apparent in the correspondent covering the story on the ground. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot attempts to capture that high and inject a few laughs throughout the trip.
Tina Fey isn’t exactly the first person I think of when I conjure up an image of a war obsessed reporter hunkering down in the heart of the crisis in the Middle East, and that’s part of the point, I think. It’s a fish out of water tale as seen from, as she puts it, a “white American lady”, who is a 6 in New York, but a 9.5 on the Kabul scale.
Tina plays Kim Baker, a writer who is in somewhat of a rut and floating through her 40s in a relationship that seems serious, but not enough to warrant a ring on her finger. Suddenly she has an opportunity through work to head to Afghanistan to cover the war escalating in the early 2000s. Initially she’s only going to leave her boyfriend for a few months, but as the flash forward that starts the film off would indicate, that timeframe is a bit awry.
Baker now finds herself entrenched in the mean streets of Kabul and staying at what could be considered a frat house of expats who are all there covering the war. This is the backdrop for all kinds of interesting characters like the vivacious and beautiful correspondent Tanya Vanderpoel (Margot Robbie), who is a 15 on the Kabul scale, and the headstrong Scotsman Iain MacKelpie (Martin Freeman), who is a seasoned reporter and a bit of a dick.
Kim Baker soon finds herself hitting the desert for her first taste of action with General Hollanek (Billy Bob Thornton), his troops, and Fahim Ahmadzai (Christopher Abbott), her kind-hearted escort. There’s gunfire, plenty of drinking, partying, and an awkward encounter with Alfred Molina’s character, who is a very improper Afghan politician. Baker soon assimilates to her new surroundings, and like any good junkie, she starts pushing the boundaries of what’s acceptable for a western female reporter in the middle east in order to obtain the next big story.
Whiskey Tango Foxtrot‘s storyline isn’t that convoluted and it’s effective pacing makes digesting the film an easy task. There are also some cool directorial choices Ficarra and Requa added, like setting the covert night ops mission to the soundtrack of Harry Nilsson’s “Without You”, which was surprisingly amazing.
There will probably be a lot of gripes from people in regards to the film’s portrayal of Afghans and the war. Also the fact that two lead middle eastern characters are played by Alfred Molina and Christopher Abbott, both of whom are definitely not from Afghanistan. So if you’re in that camp, consider this your trigger warning or whatever.
Whiskey Tango Foxtrot is an anomaly in that it’s not really a true rom com, war film, or a drama, but more a culmination of the three. That marriage of genres is why the film kinda worked for me. It’s far from perfect, but it’s entertaining enough to check it out and not feel like you got ripped off.