Director: Glenn Fixarra, John Requa
Cast: Tina Fey, Margo Robbie, Martin Freeman
Running Time: 112 Minutes
From Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, the creative minds behind Crazy Stupid Love, comes Whisky Tango Foxtrot, a comedic take on war journalism starring Tina Fey. This movie, which is based on the real events of war correspondent Kim Barker (as told in her book The Taliban Shuffle: Strange Days in Afghanistan and Pakistan), forces you to bed the question as to its authenticity. And while all’s fair in love and war, this film is truly all over the place.
Foxtrot follows Kim Baker (Fey), yes her name was changed for safety purposes…right…a single woman pushing 50 who loathes her desk job. When she is given an opportunity to travel abroad into the depths of Kabul to cover the war as a journalist she jumps at the opportunity, quickly finding herself in the midst of combat in the Middle East.
You find out pretty early on that Whisky Tango Foxtrot isn’t so much about war as it is about the lost souls that inhabit Kabul. The safe house where many journalists reside during their stay is appropriately known as “The Funhouse”. This is where we meet like the likes of Tanya Vanderpoel (Margo Robbie) a beautiful minx reporter who befriends Kim and has more hubris than Donald Trump. Everyone Kim meets comes off like a caricature, providing over-the-top dramatics that distract more than entertain.
This is ultimately my main issue with the film. Although it is, at time, funny, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot struggles to reel in the audience with any pathos or ethos. Instead the film relies on the outlandish to captivate, or in this case puzzle, the audience.
That isn’t even considering the forced love interest that the story instills upon our protagonist. After a few nights of partying Baker is introduced to Ian (Martin Freeman). a Scottish lad with a mouth fit for a sailor. Although Freeman makes a convincing Scotsman, his character is unwarranted. There was already plenty of interesting underdeveloped side characters that roam the streets of Kabul. Why couldn’t Baker connect with one of them?
But much like the supporting characters, the film itself is frustratingly underdeveloped. I respect that its origins stem from a pre-published source; however, there is no excuse for the film’s inability to come together congruently. Perhaps Tina Fey could have scribed the film and presented us with a better all around story. At least she might not have forgotten to utilize the setting and potential subject matter that is Afghanistan.
Whisky Tango Foxtrot could have benefited by engaging the audience with real issues that both Americans and Middle Easterners face during a time of strife. But in true comedic fashion the film is oversaturated with characters, losing its meaning within the chaos. Sure Fey does a commendable job as a fish out of water reporter. But with no heart or soul to her character, she simply can’t carry the film to the end.