Whisky Tango Foxtrot

Based on “The Taliban Shuffle: Strange Days in Afghanistan,” a memoir by Kim Barker, “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” follows the journey of a copy writer turned war reporter (Tina Fey).

One day Barker is called into a meeting where, because she is unmarried and without children, she is asked to cover the war in Afghanistan. Seeming hesitant, but pulled by a desire to escape her mundane life, she decides to go for it.

When Barker arrives in Afghanistan the journalists that are stationed there basically just party most of the time, which speaks volumes about the ways people may try to avoid the emotional intensity of their surroundings.

Other than that, Barker hangs out with some very calm troops, gets ballsy and captures some crazy footage, and seems to get very wrapped up in the thrill of getting a lead story. It doesn’t seem that Barker ever has any actual interest in the politics of what she is covering. Realizing that it is a comedy, this may be totally fine. But the film is an odd mix. It portrays Barker’s character as somewhat numb to the tragic reality she is immersed in, while at the same time making a joke wherever it can.

I’m not quite sure what genre “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” fits into. It gets close to drama, and it gets close to comedy but it isn’t that funny and it isn’t that touching. It leaves the impression of a dull and desensitized view of war and the challenges reporters face abroad. Perhaps the film is staying true to the memoir, but it is definitely a different approach to describing such an experience.

That being said, it’s not a bad film or a bad story. It’s interesting. It has funny moments, and it makes you want to know what will happen in the end. A few scenes even get close to developing the characters in a way that might make the audience care about them. But overall, there is really no emotional substance to the film and it leaves no big impression.

Worth a watch on Netflix, I give “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” 2.5 out of 5 stars.

Second review by Jennifer Fiducvua

Paramount Pictures new Film “Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrot” stars SNL alum Tina Fey as journalist Kim Baker, Margot Robbie as Tanya Vanderpoel, also a journalist, Martin Freeman (a Scottish photographer ) as Iain MacKelpie, Christopher Abbott as Fahim Ahmadzai, aide to Baker, Billy Bob Thornton as Hollanek, a Marine colonel, and Alfred Molina as Ali Massoud Sadiq. It is directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, and Written by Robert Carlock.

The film is based on Barker’s memoir The Taliban Shuffle: Strange Days in Afghanistan and Pakistan, detailing her years as a reporter in Pakistan and Afghanistan beginning in 2002.

Baker leaves her boring, hum-drum existence as a copy writer in New York for a war correspondent position in war-torn Kabul, which she and the others in her circle call “Ka-Bubble”, referring to the fact that this new existence is outside and apart from their “real life”.

While Baker quickly discovers that she is not in the least prepared for this new existence, having no real knowledge of the customs of the area, nor the language, she also quickly becomes addicted to the rush and adrenaline involved with following a potentially life threatening story.

Baker competes for air-time on a network with dwindling resources available to cover a “forgotten war”, where her bosses inform her that no one wants to watch the normal goings-on of a long drawn out conflict, and that if she wants air time, she needs to cover “big stories”

She cultivates relationships with her house-mates, and an Afghan official, who clearly wants to be more involved than Baker is willing to be.

In her search for the next big story that will get her back on the air, she alienates her aide and friend Fahim.
Baker gets her big break when her friend and lover Martin is kidnapped and held hostage, and she arranges a rescue by convincing Marine Colonel Hollanek to arrange a rescue, while she films and reports it.

Fey plays the part of a story-hungry yet “lost” news reporter very well. She is lost as far as her personal life and how living in the “Ka-bubble” relates to her life back home, and what starts as a few months assignment stretches into years.
In watching the previews, I did not expect to enjoy the movie as much as I did. A lot of information and story was packed into its run-time, and when the lights came up, I truly expected that the movie had been two hours long, yet it ran from 7pm to about 815pm.

I had only ever seen movies where Tina Fey plays a comedic role, and enjoyed her role in this more serious format very much. The character relationships were believable to me, being in that specific setting, and I thought that the movie flowed well, and tied up potential loose ends well.

I would give this movie 3.75 out of 5 stars.