Movie Review: Whiskey Tango Foxtrot (2016)

Posted: August 21, 2016 in Comedy, Drama
Tags: , ,

whiskey tango foxtrot

Kim Baker (Tina Fey) is a journalist who writes for the taking heads on television.  In 2003, while most journalists are covering the war in Iraq, Baker is asked to go to Afghanistan, and become a war correspondent.    Baker decides to go, leaving her serious boyfriend, Chris (Josh Charles) behind. Shortly after arriving, she meets her translator Fahim, (Christopher Abbott) the head of security detail, Nic, (Stephen Peacocke) and fellow female reporter Tanya Vanderpoel (Margot Robbie)  She starts out as a Marine Embed, and gets stories from Afghan women, and eventually get to interview the Afghan Attorney General Ali Massoud Saddiq.(Alfred Molina)  Baker is staying in Afghanistan longer than expected, and that takes a toll on her relationship at home.  She finds out that Chris is cheating on her, and starts thinking about starting a relationship of her own. Reeling from the end of her relationship, Baker finds solace in the arms of Iain McKelpie (Martin Freeman) a lecherous Scottish journalist who hits on any woman in the country.

Despite her interviews with solders, and high ranking government officials, Baker gets scooped by Tanya, who gets caught in the crossfire of a U.S. drone attack, and whose video of that attack goes viral.  Baker needs a big story to keep her job, she turns to Iain, who is working on a story about Chinese involvement in Afghanistan, that could be huge.  But while Iain is working on that story, he is kidnapped a held for ransom.  Baker has to use all her connections in the Marines and to the Afghan government to try to get Iain back, and if she does so, she could score the biggest story of her life.  Does she succeed in helping to find Iain?

I did not like Whiskey Tango Foxtrot.  It tries to do too many things, is it a war movie, is it a comedy, is it a relationship movie?  It tries to be all of these things, and does not succeed at any of them.  It has to be a war movie, because Kim baker is a war correspondent.  But it tries to be too irreverent, by sending Baker to parties and weddings, and even throwing in some unnecessary bathroom humor.  A war comedy is a hard trick to pull off, Doctor Stangelove and MASH were probably the two best ones, and this does not come close to that.  The story becomes about the reporters and how competitive they are to get a story, and that should not be the central theme in a story about the war in Afghanistan.  War correspondents have a dangerous and sometimes deadly job, this film did not portray that aspect of Baker’s job well enough. Ultimately, none of the characters are very likeable, so there’s no one here to root for.

Tina Fey tries to be funny, and hip, and self-deprecating,  dropping one-liners in her trademark style, but ultimately the script fails her, and she is left to flounder in a semi-serious half-baked comedy. Margot Robbie livens things up as a seasoned Aussie reporter, who will do almost anything for a good story.  She is not really a good person in this role, but she plays the role of frenemy well. Robbie has played a lot of different roles in her short career, and is building a versatile resume, as either a comedic or serious actress.  Martin Freeman tries to play the smarmy love interest here and that’s a bridge too far for him.  I will always consider him a good guy, and he should stick to those good guy roles.  Alfred Molina is a dubious choice to play the Afghan attorney general, and the script makes him do insulting things, so it’s not a shining moment for Mr. Molina. Very few of the Afghan roles are played by Muslims, so this is another case of Hollywood whitewashing.

The direction is ok, the pacing is slow,  this is the directing team who have directed such movies as I Love  You Phillip Morris Focus, and Crazy, Stupid Love.  The pacing was slow they only got a good performance from Robbie.  There were also no great visuals in the film, so the direction is nothing notable.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot:  WTF indeed.

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