Director | Glenn Ficarra, John Requa
Writer | Robert Carlock, Kim Baker
Cast | Tina Fey, Margot Robbie, Martin Freeman, Billy Bob Thornton
Run Time | 1hr 52mins
Certificate | 15
Plot | Based on the book “The Taliban Shuffle: Strange Days in Afghanistan and Pakistan”, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot tells the true story of journalist Kim Baker as she reports the war in Afghanistan for an American TV network.
Review | When bored, unappreciated copywriter Kim Baker is given the opportunity to swap the safety of her office for a job reporting from Afghanistan at the height of the war on terror, she reluctantly accepts it. Fast forward three years and Baker is at the forefront of everything that is going on in the middle East – ride alongs with U.S Marines, sources at the highest levels of Afghan politics and right in the middle of the Kabul bubble (or ‘Kabubble’ as it comes to be known).
There’s a lot to like about Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, or WTF (yes that WTF), Tina Fey shows she has what it takes to play it straight and could be set for gritty roles of the back of her performance here. This isn’t her Stranger Than Fiction but it provides plenty of opportunity to see her play a strong, independent woman figuring out the chaotic world around her.
Some viewers may think Tina Fey would be as far out of her comfort zone as Baker is when she first arrives in Afghanistan. But that’s simply not true. Whilst this isn’t a straight up comedy along the likes of Fey’s usual outings, there is a lot of black comedy hidden in the sand. Baker’s honest and humorous relationship with foul-mouthed, Glaswegian photographer Iain MacKelpie, played skilfully by Martin Freeman, has some awkwardly amusing moments as the pair develop a fondness for each other. Likewise, her sister-in-harm’s way Tanya Vanderpoel (Robbie) shows a honest representation of female camaraderie and at times fierce rivalry.
The story itself plays out like an drastically alternative imaging of The Hurt Locker, basically showcasing one journalist’s highlights of her time in Afghanistan. The field reporter’s story has rarely been told in the war on terror so it is refreshing to see Glenn Ficarra and John Requa try and shine a light on this pocket of individuals. Unfortunately what they reveal doesn’t delve any deeper than the surface and miss an opportunity to dig deep into uncharted territory.
What lets this film down is indecision. WTF wants to tread a fine line between a satirical comedy like Four Lions and an inspirational drama about starting again and pushing yourself out there. The reality is that it fails to do either . The film is very enjoyable however it doesn’t stray far from the safe zone.
The Verdict | A perfectly enjoyable drama that struggles to take as many risks as its protagonist. WTF documents the lives of journalists on the ground in war-torn Afghanistan but can’t decide if it wants to make viewers laugh or cry.