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Whiskey Tango Foxtrot review – Tina Fey sees the funny side of war reporting | Whiskey Tango Foxtrot | The Guardian

Whisky tango foxtrot movie review

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It takes a special kind of person to see a hotbed of war, corruption, and despair and say, with a smirk, “yes, I want to be there.”

kim baker (tina fey) is not, at first, one of these people. she’s not even a proverbial polite reporter for a big metropolitan newspaper, she’s a polite domestic news editor for a nameless but not top-tier video news outlet. it’s 2003 and, as her editor says, “iraq 2” is about to start. all resources are directed there, so she is looking for a volunteer among her staff who is single and has no children of hers to go to afghanistan.

when baker arrives in kabul, he recognizes that it is the great fw: the forgotten war. She’s assigned a bodyguard, Nic (Stephen Peacoke), and a local “fixer,” Fahim (Christopher Abbott), and sent to a ramshackle room in the sprawling freshman dorm-like building that doubles as an office and residence. for foreign correspondents. nihilistic bravado overflows like ashtrays.

This is Tina Fey we’re talking about, so this isn’t an immediate plunge into Robert Altman-style world-weariness. there are some private baby antics that involve learning how to conduct an interview while the Afghan winds blow your hair all over your face. But during his first incorporation with a USMC team (under the command of Billy Bob Thornton, in a truly fantastic supporting role) the bullets start flying and Baker jumps into the fray with his camera rolling. she is instantly hooked, and it will take something serious to break her addiction.

The adrenaline junkie who enjoys dangerous situations is a fascinating subgenre, from the wounded locker to taking out the dead to the recent Sundance Doc Jim: The James Foley Story. whiskey tango foxtrot sinks into it slowly, in such a way that the utmost seriousness of it feels like a surprise not only to the baker, but to us in the audience. There’s plenty more to the film to keep you busy, like a love story with Scottish photographer Iain (Martin Freeman), as well as a beautifully spun feminist awakening.

“she had to travel to the other side of the world just to find herself” isn’t exactly the kind of nauseous cliché you’ll find in robert carlock’s screenplay (adapted, it seems, from kim barker’s memoir, the taliban deck: strange days in afghanistan and pakistan). whiskey tango foxtrot, directed by glenn ficara and john requa (writers of bad santa, writer/directors of focus) i would never let something like this go by, even if, let’s face it, that’s what’s going on here.

ficara and requa have an irreverent streak, one that might even seem a bit frivolous in the face of the gravity of war. One of the film’s few Troops in Distress sequences is set to Harry Nilson’s silly power ballad Without You; And when a trip to Kandahar to follow up on a story means donning a blue burqa (or, as Fey calls it, an “Ikea mystery bag”), she steps out (in slow motion) to a bossa nova beat.

maybe that’s offensive to Muslim women (or maybe male oppression of women by requiring them to wear the burqa is offensive; this has always been difficult), but that’s nothing like realizing it mid-frame that the “good Afghan”, fahim, is played by christopher abbott. abbott (james white, the girls on hbo) is a fantastic actor and with the beard and the turban he certainly “passes”, but what the hell were they thinking? Alfred Molina plays a much sillier role as an Afghan politician somewhat obsessed with the Fey character, but the whole story is so wisecracking (and cheesy) that it’s hard to take it too seriously. Abbott isn’t putting butts on the seats, and there are scores of actors from this part of the world who could have done the part of Fahim well. he’s the kind of hollow move that would make this gang of jaded reporters throw up their arms.

That aside (and a silly plot twist with another reporter played by Margot Robbie), this is by far the best feature film in which Tina Fey has played the lead. Granted, that’s a low bar, but it’s a relief to finally see her in a role that utilizes her intelligence, her comedic timing, and the fundamental goodness that emanates from her personality. Kim Baker is a media fighter who overcomes obstacles and finds solutions, not far removed from Liz Lemon from 30 Rock. only now it’s not comedy, it’s war, and while whiskey tango foxtrot does a good job of showing how blatantly uninterested some of these people can be about the larger story in exchange for getting a scoop, this represents a step towards the big leagues for both character and star.

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