Different, but enjoyable nonetheless.
Tina Fey’s latest onscreen event is Whiskey Tango Foxtrot: when a US desk jockey jumps at the opportunity to become a war reporter in Afghanistan, she gets caught up in the adrenaline and alcohol fuelled world of the ‘Kabubble’. Starring Tina Fey, Margot Robbie and Martin Freeman, your first instinct would be to think that this is comedy. But I’m not so sure about that.
Adapted from the real Kim Baker’s autobiography (The Taliban Shuffle), Whiskey Tango Foxtrot has the common adaptation feeling that pieces are missing from the whole story, making the plot feel disjointed, and the ending underwhelming and without build up. The film also struggles to identify itself; although well rounded films are meant to please all interests, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot wasn’t well rounded – rather, it was attempting to be both a comedic look at life as a female journalist in Kabul and a serious war-journalism film, yet both genres felt out of place in the film. It just fell like it was trying to go for too many angles, and because of that it didn’t succeed in either of them.
Despite the disjointed feel, the story was quite interesting, as Kim Baker (Tina Fey) gets caught up in the adrenaline rush of catching the next big development in the war for the world to see. It went in some interesting directions, exploring ideas like the impact of the Afghanistan War on women and the impact of the Iran War on the resources sent to Afghanistan, yet because of the overfilled plot none of these subplots were never really fulfilled. What it did deliver on, however, were some extremely tense moments, as well as other really funny sections, as Kim grows closer to her fellow journalists and makes some unlikely friends and enemies.
However, strong performances make up for the lacklustre plot. Tina Fey excels as Kim Baker, balancing the comedy and drama well, and managing to both embody and satirise at the “white lady who just wants out”. Despite her annoying British accent, Margot Robbie is quite entertaining as Tanya, skilled journalist and Kim’s guide through the party scene, and Martin Freeman is brilliantly crass and refreshing as Kim’s loud, Scottish love interest. The strong supporting cast of Billy Bob Thornton, Alfred Molina and Christopher Abbott also balance the mismatched tones of the film quite well, giving some strength to an otherwise weak script.
As much as there is to criticise about this film, it’s not an all-bad film. Like any adrenaline-rush film, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot has its highs and lows, but whilst the highs can be spine-tingling, or make you roll with laughter, the lows can leave you feeling underwhelmed. And, even though the weak script and off-kilter tones made Whiskey Tango Foxtrot an unexpectedly lower film, some great moments and wonderful cast made it an enjoyable afternoon.
Here’s my list of the top five films starring the cast of Whiskey Tango Foxtrot:
- Mean Girls – Tina Fey
- Love Actually – Martin Freeman and Billy Bob Thornton
- The Wolf of Wall Street – Margot Robbie
- Captain America: Civil War – Martin Freeman
- 30 Rock – Tina Fey
Images from IMDb.com: