Review: Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

Recommended for fans of hers, mostly.

Tina Fey plays her least Tina Fey-iest character in Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, a book she optioned because a reviewer called the author a “Tina Fey character.” We begin in 2003, where Fey’s Kim Baker (her real-life counterpoint is Kim Barker; why the single-letter name change?) has just been deployed from her boring job writing teleprompter script for network news straight into “the Kabubble,” ie Kabul, Afghanistan. She’s dropped into a Bacchanalian house of foreign correspondents, who balance deep reportage on various human rights issues with a lot of drinking and sex. She finds an ally in star British journo Tanya Vanderpoel (Margot Robbie, in the most 3D film role she’s had yet) and a love-hate thing with the Scottish lout Iain MacKelpie (Martin Freeman). Christopher Abbott, Girls’ Charlie and a white man from Connecticut, has a quiet, steady part as Kim’s Afghan guide Fahim; while Alfred Molina, an Hispanic Englishman, provides comic relief as the high-ranking Ali Massoud Sadiq, who pops up to hit on Kim from time to time. War movies are a hard tone to manage, especially ones with Tina Fey at the centre—Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, while nowhere near as atrocious as its trailer suggests, nonetheless can’t find the balance between raging parties and car bombs. When Kim forgets her head scarf and is in actual danger, how worried are we supposed to feel, exactly? Where the movie around her suffers, Fey is terrific, stretching farther than she ever has—and she will admit she hasn’t tried—and making the whole enterprise worth watching. Recommended for fans of hers, mostly.

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