Whiskey Tango Foxtrot | Movie Review

WHISKEY TANGO FOXTROT or its meaning of WTF aka WHAT THE F**K is Tina Fey doing what she does best plus throwing in a lot more. She gives us a comedic look at the war in Afghanistan telling the biographical book of Kim Baker from her book, THE TALIBAN SHUFFLE, but in the words of Kernel Blake, your reviewer, “it’s the dramatic turn by Fey that really shines through.” I love it when comedians do dramatic acting, Jim Carrey, nails it EVERY time, Robin Williams (may Zeus rest his soul) was the perfect serial killer, Steve Carrell and Coogan, even (shudders) Adam Sandler, all turn in amazing dramatic performances so I can see this working well, Fey is talented beyond belief. WHISKEY TANGO FOXTROT is out now from the fine folks at Paramount Pictures Australia, it is rated MA15+ and runs for 112mins. Enjoy Blakes thoughts…….all the best…….JK.

 

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot Movie Poster image

 

BY BLAKE CURRALL

It’s probably fair to say that Tina Fey hasn’t had a huge success in translating her Emmy winning television successes onto the big screen in the past. SISTERS was a fun movie but the majority have been ho hum at best and haven’t showcased her talent as one of the best comedians of the past decade, evidenced by the genius that was the classic TV series, 30 ROCK. Her new starring role is the true story of journalist Kim Baker, covering the war in Afghanistan in the early 2000s, a story bound to be full of comedy if I ever saw one….

WHISKEY TANGO FOXTROT is based on the darkly comedic memoir THE TALIBAN SHUFFLE and sees news copywriter Baker (Fey) given the chance to break out of her dull life in New York as an unmarried woman in her 40s and head to the frontline of Afghanistan as a fully-fledged war journalist to cover the US war on the Taliban and its leader, Osama Bin Laden.

The story from here is where there’s a surprising amount of humour as Fey’s horrendously inexperienced journalist is thrust into a foreign land, with an alien landscape and equally alien culture to her Manhattan norm. Walking through the heavily militarised streets of Kabul with a retina-searing orange backpack (the lady at the store told her it was military grade!) Baker is a fish out of water in a place where there is no water. And no fish. And donkeys are more revered than women.

 

WHISKEY TANGO FOXTROT

 

Meeting her local guide, Fahim (Christopher Abbot, GIRLS) and Kiwi security guard, Nic (Stephen Peacocke, HOME & AWAY) Baker is taken to the ‘Kabubble’, a balls-out crazy frat house, home to the world’s journalists that have been sent to this godforsaken place to cover the events of the war. Here she meets fellow journalist and solid ‘15/10 in Kabul hottie’, Tanya (Margot Robbie, WOLF OF WALL STREET) and photojournalist, the walking Scottish hard-on Iain (Martin Freeman, THE HOBBIT, SHERLOCK) who show her the ins and outs of survival in Krazy Kabul.

Reality soon sets in for Baker as she misses home, her boyfriend and the faeces free air of New York. On her first mission out with the troops, led by General Hollanek, played brilliantly by Billy Bob Thornton, Baker gets a feel for the real story in the region, with troops unsure of why they are there and what they are fighting for with the concurrent war in Iraq taking a lot of the focus away from their mission. When the Marine convoy gets hit by Taliban rebels, Baker puts her life on the line to get the story, much to the annoyance of her minders.

From here, Baker pushes the boundaries further and further, both professionally and culturally, to get that next big story and the accompanying adrenaline rush that goes with it. But how far is too far? In attempt to curb her crazy enthusiasm and try and reign her in, her minder Fahim, tells her that 80% of the worlds opiates come from the region and people will intentionally harm children in order to take them to a hospital to raid their drug supplies, showing her the lengths people will go for a hit and the collateral damage that brings. He is trying to show her that she is reaching these levels of insanity to get a story, and that can never end well.

 

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot Margot Robbie as Tanya Vanderpoel image

 

If WHISKEY TANGO FOXTROT is starting to sound like pretty heavy stuff, well it is in a way, Fey delivers a strong dramatic performance of which she hasn’t done in the past, although there is still plenty of humour to be had, especially in her exchanges with Billy Bob and her new “special friend” Ali Moussad Sadiq (the hilarious Alfred Molina, RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, FRIDA), the attorney general of Kabul who is looking to right the wrongs of the country and also has a king sized bed in his office, for diplomatic debriefings I imagine.

As Baker’s initial three months on location turns to three years, her new life in Kabul starts to wind down as stories dry up and the ratings begin to drop as the news watching public back home begin to lose interest in the plight of US troops at war. Although when Iain, now her “special friend” gets kidnapped by Taliban militia, Baker sees an opportunity for a brilliant story and calls in favours from her Marine outfit to stage a rescue mission, with a cameraman in tow of course.

WHISKEY TANGO FOXTROT was a surprising film for me, the trailers seemed OK, seemingly showing a light-hearted look at war journalism in Afghanistan and while it does have that humour, especially in the first half, it’s the dramatic turn by Fey that really shines through. Directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, frequent co-directors on films such as FOCUS and CRAZY, STUPID LOVE, deliver a fun, funny and heartfelt telling of Kim Baker’s story in WHISKEY TANGO FOXTROT mixing comedy with drama and genuine moments of tension with the alien landscape of Afghanistan beautifully shot. So a biting comedy based in a war torn country starring Tina Fey, surely they should’ve called it ZERO DARK THIRTY ROCK…

 

4 Pops

 

 

Kernel Blake is a part-time beard bandit, philanthropist, industrialist….bicyclist…photographer, world traveller, movie lover, a man of few words who enjoys the finer things in life, like reciting Snake Plissken quotes. And when all that fails, heads out to a racetrack to do skids. Can be found twatting @bcurrall80 and hipstergramming @bcurrall80

** All images courtesy of various sources on Google or direct from the distributor/publisher – credit has been given to photographers where known – images will be removed on request.