Possible spoilers ahead!
The now forgotten “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” stars Tina Fay as Kim Baker, a New York-based news reporter who in the hopes of escaping from her mundane existence, agrees to head over to Afghanistan to cover developments in the country, after the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003.
With the assistance of her translator/driver Fahim Ahmadzai (Christopher Abbott) and guidance from experienced British TV journalist/war correspondent Tanya Vanderpoel (Margot Robbie), Kim, slowly but steadily finds her footing in her new workplace/home.
Kim’s plan was to work in Afghanistan for three months before returning to her old life, but she ends up staying a couple of years in the country during which she forms close bonds with her fellow war correspondents, including Scottish journalist Iain MacKelpie (Martin Freeman). Kim also finds useful sources of information like government official Ali Massoud Sadiq (Alfred Molina), who spends most of the time hitting on her.
However, the longer Kim stays in Afghanistan, the more “addicted” she becomes to living on the edge and putting her life (and those of her friends) in danger.
I watched “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” out of curiosity more than anything else. Well, it also helped that Margot Robbie is in the film. Anyways, with Tina Fey as the star, I wasn’t sure what kind of movie I was getting. I mean, trying to make a comedy out of war seemed like a bad idea to me. But I’m happy to say, “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” is a little deeper than you’d expect.
The movie is based on Kim Barker’s 2012 memoir “The Taliban Shuffle: Strange Days in Afghanistan and Pakistan”, and was adapted for the big screen by Fey’s longtime collaborator, Robert Carlock. So it should come as no surprise that there are many classic Tina Fey bits all over the movie.
But “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” also offers several moments of witty social commentary, and sincere dramatic story beats, while at the same time managing to balance a little humor with the war that’s taking place around the characters. And its important to note that the soldiers and the war are treated with respect for the entirety of the film.
There’s one more thing I wasn’t expecting from watching this movie, and its something we never hear about: How do reporters cope when they return home. They also have to deal with the emotional toll of war, and “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” handles that very well I thought.
Although I expected Tina Fey to be funny, I was quite impressed when showed some of her range. She was able to transition from funny to serious rather easily. And all the while, Fey still maintained what most people like about her.
Not surprisingly, Margot Robbie nails her role as the TV reporter Tanya Vanderpoel, further establishing herself as a talented character actor. Here, she plays a woman whose hectic lifestyle and even wilder attitude is matched by her intelligence and ambition. Don’t let her look fool you, this is one tough lady.
Martin Freeman is likewise enjoyable as the Scottish journalist Ian MacKelpie. His relationship with Kim follows a somewhat predictable trajectory but is elevated but Fey and Freeman’s combined abilities. The two actors have good chemistry and it would be nice to see them work together again in the future.
“Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” is a bit uneven at times, and it’s not an Oscar worthy movie either. But it is an entertaining film with its fair share of funny and dramatic moments, enjoyable sequences, and some very solid acting.
“Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” final score: 7