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.