Whiskey Tango has some good moments and Tina Fey really does shine with the material given, but it struggles with tone and seems unable to figure out what sort of movie it wants to be.
There’s some good and some bad that comes with Whiskey Tango Foxtrot. Kim Barker (Tina Fey) volunteers to go over to Afghanistan to become a war correspondent since she appears to be tired of how her life has moved nowhere. So she packs her bags, pushes her long distance relationship even further, and finds herself in a situation she never expected to find herself in. Greeted by her driver/translator Fahim (Christopher Abbott) and her security detail Nic (Stephen Peacocke), they bring Kim over to Kabul, where she’ll be staying with all the other journalists.
It’s here where she’s introduced to the women she found her inspiration in while back in New York, Tanya Vanderpoel (Margot Robbie). The chemistry between Robbie and Fey helps to make the relationship between Tanya and Kim feel real, like we’ve been in the shoes of these two people once before without having to go through the hardships of war that these two share together. Really, the performances of these two in addition to the rest of the supporting cast help make Whiskey Tango Foxtrot a movie that was, at the least, enjoyable to watch even with all of its faults.
Moving on to Kim’s first day in the field, she finds herself at one of the Afghanistan camps where U.S. troops are stationed, questioning the troops about how they feel that Afghanistan has been put on the backburner in comparison to coverage that Pakistan receives. Keep in mind that in the movie, we don’t actually get a look at anything involving Pakistan so audiences will have to either remember everything that went on back then or just use their imagination. Throughout her time in Kabul, Kim meets many different people, some in which are Afghan politicians, some are potential love interests, and some are people who she’ll just never forget.
Looking at the good of the movie, it’s primarily the performances. As stated earlier, Fey and Robbie stand out and bring a genuine sort of feeling to their relationship. Then there’s Martin Freeman as Iain, a freelance war photographer, who is given a chance to really shine as probably the funniest part of the movie. The comedy part of the movie never feels forced and that’s the one part of the movie that directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa do get right.
But it’s tough to get a read on exactly what type of movie Whiskey Tango Foxtrot wants to be. At its core, it’s obviously very much a war comedy. Ficarra and Requa make it a point to show just how much the toll of war will have an effect on a person. Whether it’s a soldier or a war reporter, war changes you. Where Whiskey Tango Foxtrot falters is that Ficarra and Requa just don’t appear to be content with their movie being a war comedy, so they try to blend in several different subplots into the movie. What’s important to note is that Whiskey Tango Foxtrot is based on the memoir The Taliban Shuffle, so it’s possible what’s in the movie did actually happen (we all know the liberties that can be taken in Hollywood). But it just never feels like there’s a smooth transition from print to film.
Whiskey Tango Foxtrot is directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, written by Robert Carlock, and stars Tina Fey, Margot Robbie, Martin Freeman, Christopher Abbott, Billy Bob Thornton, Alfred Molina, Sheila Vand, and Nicholas Braun. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot will be in theaters March 4, 2016.