Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

Directed By: Glenn Ficarra and John Requa

Starring: Tina Fey, Margot Robbie, Martin Freeman, Alfred Molina, and Billy Bob Thornton

When I think of Tina Fey and live action movies over the last several years, I think of halfway decent comedies at best.  Sisters.  This Is Where I Leave You.  Admission.  The list goes on, but not necessarily in a good way.  I don't typically think of her when it comes to more dramatic fare, but she may have just found a good role that could propel her career in a slightly different direction with this weekend's war dramedy Whiskey Tango Foxtrot.  The War in Afghanistan and Tina Fey aren’t two things that typically go together, especially on the big screen.  Whiskey Tango Foxtrot isn't an SNL skit.  It tackles serious issues in a somewhat serious way.  Oscillating between lighthearted comedy and intense drama, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot may just offer a worthwhile change in pace for Fey on the big screen.

It's 2003.  Reporter Kim Baker (Fey) is living a rather mediocre life.  With no spouse and no children, she slaves away at her desk in New York City on uninteresting stories for the news agency for which she works.  With resources being diverted to the War in Iraq, the agency needs one of their single employees with no next of kin to tackle the latest developments in Afghanistan, where war is still raging as well.  Kim signs up for the job and prepares to make her way overseas.  While doing so, she catches a glimpse of a segment by war correspondent Tanya Vanderpoel (Margot Robbie).  Little does she know that Tanya will be a good friend once she does make it overseas.

Upon arriving, Kim is introduced to General Hollanek (Billy Bob Thornton) of the Marine Corps and given the skinny on how reporters and the armed forces are to interact throughout the process.  She subsequently does exactly the opposite of what she's told by taking risks and putting herself on the line in the name of a good story.  Along the way, she builds strong ties with Tanya, a Scottish fellow named Iain MacKelpie (Martin Freeman), and her bodyguard Fahim Ahmadzai (Christopher Abbott).  As he career flourishes in Kabul, Kim even makes a connection with Ali Massoud Sadiq (Alfred Molina), a man likely to be tapped for the role of attorney general in the very near future.  She has no idea that he'll be a bad friend, however.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot
is a decent film by every measure.  It features Tina Fey in a nice change of pace as lead Kim Baker.  It features fairly solid direction from duo Glenn Ficarra and John Requa.  It even boasts one enjoyable soundtrack featuring plenty of blasts from the past.  Yes, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot is one enjoyable movie.  The problem comes in, however, when we start talking about the point of the film.  This adaptation of Kim Barker's The Taliban Shuffle: Strange Days in Afghanistan and Pakistan is really all about telling the story of an adrenaline addict, someone who embraces the unnaturally constant state of alert in Kabul in which he or she must live — the Kabubble so to speak.  In this respect, the movie falls short somewhat as Ficarra and Requa could have spent more time exploring this aspect of Fey's character.

The film features an impressive ensemble.  It's not too often that moviegoers have Sarah Palin, Harley Quinn, Bilbo Baggins, Doc Ock, and Bad Santa all in one film.  For her part as Kate Baker, Tina Fey offers a rather interesting character.  Though sounding like the stereotypical American seeking adventure to liven up her mundane life behind a desk, she does become something more when she lets go of all the baggage she carried in New York.  Not quite the life of the party, she does bring quite a bit to the film with her comedic edge.  For her part as Tanya Vanderpoel, Kabul 15 Margot Robbie is a charming party girl with grit.  As Iain MacKelpie, Martin Freeman brings his usual biting wit.  Finally, Christopher Abbott and Billy Bob Thornton deliver stoic yet amusing performances as Fahim Ahmadzai and General Hollanek respectively.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot
isn't perfect, but it's not half bad either.  The Afghanistan war comedy-drama gets a strong 0.06% rating.  I should recommend some Tennessee whiskey on the rocks, but I'll leave it at a couple of beers.