Whiskey Tango Foxtrot
Entertaining comedy starring Tina Fey as a newbie war reporter
As you would expect, the War in Afghanistan has largely been captured through a deadly serious lens, recently in Kajaki and further back in 2007 in Robert Redford’s Lions for Lambs, which touched upon the ethics of the conflict. So it’s interesting to see a lighter approach in this adaptation of Kim Barker’s memoir of her time spent reporting from the frontline, The Taliban Shuffle.
Tina Fey takes the lead role (renamed Kim Baker, in recognition of deviations from the source material) and she’s a good fit for a film that taps into the same dark vein of humour as MASH. Its main focus is on the addictive adrenaline rush that compels journalists to put themselves in danger’s way for an exclusive story. When American news producer Kim is given the opportunity to appear on screen and take leave from her old life she grasps the opportunity with both hands and heads to Afghanistan for her belated big break.
Especially entertaining is the banter and dynamic between fellow journalists; Margot Robbie gamely plays the role of ambitious reporter Tanya Vanderpoel, who is champing at the bit to get laid and shows Kim how to really party. Directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa (Focus, Crazy, Stupid, Love.) inject a grimy and involving energy into the many debauched nights of drinking, while Fey’s regular collaborator Robert Carlock pens the screenplay.
It’s a topsy-turvy world and so is much of the casting, with English born Martin Freeman playing a Scottish photographer, American born Christopher Abbott (Girls, James White) playing a local guide and Alfred Molina playing a creepy caricature of an Afghan politician. This story is told from an outsider’s perspective and, like its protagonist, it takes a while to find its feet. However, once you’ve got over the off-putting aspects, Kim’s personal journey becomes quite engaging, though you may wish the film was a bit meatier politically.
General release from Fri 13 May.