Tag Archives: Margot Robbie

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot – Movie Review

Based on the book by Kim Barker, The Taliban Shuffle: Strange Days in Afghanistan and Pakistan, Tina Fey plays the role of war correspondent Kim Baker. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot is less about Barker’s actual story of a network correspondent in a hostile environment but a case study in the addiction correspondents have to risk their lives for the story.

Release Date: March 4, 2016
Writer: Robert Carlock
Director: Glenn Ficarra, John Requa
Cast: Tina Fey, Martin Freeman, Margot Robbie, Billy Bob Thornton

One thing you should know before going watching Whiskey Tango Foxtrot is that this is not a comedy. Sure there are comedic moments, but the family is a serious look at a woman, who knows she’s on the tail end of her television journalism career, unless she can make something happen. That something is going to Afghanistan and covering the involvement of the United States government. The challenge is to bring back stories that can complete with the war in Iraq.

At best, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot is an interesting film. Tiny Fey plays Kim Baker as a strong woman, who is a fish out of water in a foreign land. Baker is accompanied by her cameraman Brian (Nicholas Braun) and her interpreter Fahim Ahmadzi (Christopher Abbott).

Her first assignment is as an embedded reporter with General Hollanek (Billy Bob Thornton) and a squad of soldiers on maneuvers. As luck would have it, they are ambushed and Kim puts her life endanger by putting herself in harm’s way and filming the attack on a hostile truck.

Adrenaline still rushing, we are introduced to the one spot where all the war correspondents unwind and it’s the local bar. Think on-campus college pub but instead of uninhibited college students, you have uninhibited middle-aged adults. It is here that Kim meets British-reporter Tanya Vanderpoel (Margot Robbie) and learns that in the middle of nowhere every woman is hot. In the U.S. Baker may be a 6, but in the Middle East, she’s a ten.

Baker also meets another British Reporter, Iain MacKelpie (Martin Freeman). To Baker, MacKelpie comes off as more arrogant that street smart and this flirtatious rivalry soon turns into full blown sex without consequences.

The movie continues to follow Baker as she places herself in one dangerous situation after the other and then releasing the pent up aggression with MacKelpie. This danger includes becoming involved with a local official, Ali Massoud Sadiq (Alfred Molina) and escalates to inserting herself into a street demonstration resulting in near disaster. As the highs increase, the interest in her stories decreases to the point that her network is not broadcasting her stories.

Adventures aside, the bright spot of Whiskey Tango Foxtrot are the relationships that Baker builds with the locals and especially her interpreter, Fahim. There comes a point where Bakers hunt for danger forces Fahim to choose between friendship and his own personal safety.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot is an interesting look at what is happening in the Middle East. We get a glimpse into what real people think of Americans and their presence in their country. We also see that this is a new kind of war. Unlike World War II or Vietnam, we don’t know who the enemy is exactly as they co-mingle with the innocent.

If anything, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot is Tina Fey exercising her acting skills. She plays a woman who inadvertently finds the exhilaration of danger and soon comes face-to-face with the reality of that danger not only in her life, but in the lives of her friends.

Focus – Movie Review

Will Smith returns to the big screen playing the leader of a team of con artists in Focus. The big con is set in New Orleans, the host of the Super Bowl. The target of the con is everybody on the street. Margot Robbie plays Jess, the new recruit Nicky met a few month ago. She’s eager to learn the art of the con, but Jess and crew have their natural suspicions.

Focus is a movie looking to find its place in the con-man genre but fails. Con movies are about two things: cons performing the con and the con itself. Focus is cool about showing us scenes of pickpocketing, orchestrated distractions, credit card stealing and the passing of money. But there is no real con in Focus. There’s no bad guy in Focus. If the audience has no one to root against, then it doesn’t have anyone to root.

Focus 02Instead, the movie is about this potential love story between Nicky and Jess, which is the last thing we want in a con movie. Now, that we’ve reduced the movie to a love story, the stakes are lowered, and the movie’s exciting plot points have no weight.

There’s a moment when Nicky (Will Smith) is about to gamble the team’s fortune away in a single football bet. His character appears to be throwing away everything in a single sports bet. Emotionally, we can’t be what he’s about to do and then the rug is pulled out. I’m sure this is exactly what the filmmakers hoped for in its audience, but for us it’s not enough.

Focus 01The movie’s main focus is on the relationship between Nicky and Jess (Margot Robbie). The relationship needs to be complicated to the point that you believe cons should never hook up. Instead, the relationship is complicated because it’s between two complicated messed up people.

Ultimately, Focus is not a bad film, nor is it a great film. The scenes are well acted, and the outcomes manage to appear dangerous, but ultimately feel too safe. This safe feeling is not how your audiences should feel at the end of the con. The feeling you need is that you, as an audience, have been fooled, and you’re thinking about the entire movie putting the pieces together. That never happens in Focus.