Whiskey Tango Foxtrot
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
I'd seen a couple of promos for the movie Whiskey Tango Foxtrot starting Tina Fey and I was intrigued, so when a friend suggested we see it, I agreed. Though the trailers for the film showed comedic moments in the film, I was certain that there would be quite a bit of drama as well as the movie was based on a true story. I had never seen Tina Fey in a dramatic role. I knew she was great in comedies, but did she have the chops for a dramatic role?
Based on the Kim Barker's memoir, The Taliban Shuffle: Strange Days in Afghanistan and Pakistan, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot finds Kim Barker (Tina Fey) approached with the idea of being a news correspondent in the forgotten war on Afghanistan. At first she is put off by the idea, especially by the way in which it is presented, but she is more disgusted with her life as it is currently, covering low-profile stories and basically going nowhere in her career. She decides to take a chance and go for it.
Things are quite different in Afghanistan and take some getting used to, but thanks to her assigned Afghan "fixer" Fahim (Christopher Abbot) and new international correspondents Tanya (Margot Robbie) and Iain MacKelpie (Martin Freeman) Kim settles in nicely. In fact, she begins to get a bit too comfortable in her job, putting herself in danger to ensure that moments of combat get captured for the folks at home. Soldiers begin to become familiar with her, offering up frank comments about their feelings regarding their occupation of the country and more.
In fact, Kim is doing so well that she decides to stay well past her three month assignment, much to the chagrin of her boyfriend, who soon becomes her ex. Kim soon discovers that, though being a woman in Afghan society can make it difficult for her to get interviews with top Afghan officials, being a woman can also work to her advantage. Other Afghan women will speak to her behind closed doors, relaying their issues to her far from the ears of their men.
Unfortunately, the danger of the situation becomes a natural high for her and, after Tanya is nearly killed in an effort to get an incredibly dangerous exclusive interview, Kim soon realizes that this addiction to danger can have a rather permanent ending. Just when she starts to reconsider what she is doing in Afghanistan, her friend and now lover Iain is kidnapped. Can her connections in the country help save him and will this experience be the final act that pushes Kim over the edge?
As I expected, there were some great comedic moments in Whiskey Tango Foxtrot. They were not the slapstick or sarcastic wit comedic moments we are used to seeing in Tina Fey movies. I enjoyed them more because they were mostly just the usual comedic moments of life, like the exciting moment regarding the first Afghan woman to ever receive a driver's license. Kim Barker speaks to the great accomplishment this is among Afghani women everywhere as the woman in question puts the car in reverse and slamming into an outdoor market display. The irony of this realistic moment is incredibly funny and this type of comedy is prevalent throughout the film. Of course there is a lot of witty banter and crazy party animal scenes in which the reporters blow off steam from their dangerous jobs by drinking, drugging and other more tawdry things to excess. That's the extent of the funny.
The rest of the film is drama. It's the drama about a life on the edge of being forgotten. It's the drama of a forgotten war being fought by real heroes. It's the drama of losing people you've come to see as friends. It's the drama of realizing you are starting to find the insane world of the war correspondent to be normal. These are all the dramatic moments that I found compelling and Tina Fey conquered them all, proving that she can do drama just as well as she can do comedy. Bravo for Tina as I hope this excellent performance ensures that she is never typecast into only comedic roles. Unfortunately for Iain, despite his interesting performance, for some reason, I can only see him as Bilbo Baggins. I would also like to commend Christopher Abbot in his role as Kim Barker's protector, translator and conscience.
As for those critics who felt the movie was too predictable, I say, "Duh, a movie based on a memoir that ends as predictably as real life? No way!" Of course it's predictable. There were no twists or subplots here because this is based on the life of a real war correspondent and most real lives don't come with compelling plot twists. Shame on you for thinking they should!
Whiskey Tango Foxtrot is a great movie for those who want to see a different side of Tina Fey and for those who want to catch a glimpse at what it is like to be a female correspondent in a war-torn country that doesn't look to highly on women in general. I felt the film was well-done and entertaining and well-worth my hard earned cash to see in the theaters. Money well spent!