An unassuming and largely Kabul-set dramedy that never overplays its hand, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot takes place a few years into the war in Afghanistan. Tina Fey stars as journo Kim Baker (this being based on the memoir of Kim Barker), who takes the plunge to become a war correspondent when weighing the offer against her humdrum life Stateside. A slew of fish-out-of-water scenarios follow as Baker collides with Afghans’ cultural norms, joins the ranks of hard-partying journos, experiences life in a conflict zone first-hand and forges a relationship with the US Marines (whose acronym-heavy, expletive-happy lingo informs the title).
Predictably, Fey is right at home in the role of a somewhat uptight New Yorker encountering a succession of extroverted characters, brought to genuine three-dimensional life and largely played for gentle laughs by a supporting cast that includes solid contributions from Margot Robbie, Martin Freeman and Billy Bob Thornton. Only Alfred Molina veers into semi-parody as a typically corrupt, unsurprisingly sleazy Afghan politician, with Whiskey Tango Foxtrot generally avoiding a slide into satire, silliness or cynicism.
Baker juggles a number of professional, personal and romantic challenges, and as the film enters its third act I’d braced myself for a message to be hammered home with little subtlety. Luckily that doesn’t come to pass, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot content to wrap up in a politically-neutral and inoffensively tidy fashion that doesn’t offend our intelligence. Some may find the language offensive – though why you’d expect otherwise from boozing, blow-snorting, bonking war journos beats me.
‘Whiskey Tango Foxtrot’ Movie Times
Quality USA Films on the Middle East War: Dirty Wars, Three Kings, The Hurt Locker