‘Whiskey Tango Foxtrot’ Review: A Fundamentally Heart-Punching Comedy with Spirit
Whiskey Tango Foxtrot
Directed by: Glenn Ficarra and John Requa
Written by: Robert Carlock
Starring: Tina Fey, Margo Robbie, Martin Freeman, Billy Bob Thornton, Alfred Molina, Christopher Abbott, Stephen Peacocke, Sheila Vand, Fahim Anwar and more
Release Date: March 4, 2016
If it wasn’t abundantly clear by its title, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot (military code for WTF) is a dark comedy based on the book The Taliban Shuffle: Strange Days in Afghanistan and Pakistan by journalist Kim Barker.
The story follows Kim Baker, a copy editor sick of sitting behind a desk in New York who dives head first into the thrilling world of war reporting in Afghanistan. There, she meets a ragtag group of colorful personalities including Scottish playboy/photographer Iain MacKelpie (Martin Freeman), frenemy reporter Tanya Vanderpoel (Margot Robbie), sardonic General Hollanek (Billy Bob Thornton) and more.
The film walks a careful tightrope between being irreverently funny and employing the cliché dramatics that have befallen many a potentially great comedy like the recent disappointment, Our Brand is Crisis. Instead, screenwriter Robert Carlock (Saturday Night Live, 30 Rock and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt) opts for a more realistic, disjointed world full of decent, intelligent people doing very dumb things.
There are several points in the film where Baker risks her own life and even those of her companions to get her story featured on television back in America. “Unfortunately, humans are complicated and stupid so there’s a lot of that,” he said at the film’s premiere in New York City.
Filmed in New Mexico, the film takes place in the midst of a war on the sandy, explosive streets of Kubal where shit literally pollutes the air. It’s easy to forget that with Freeman’s brazen charm seducing both Baker and the audience but you are quickly snapped back to reality when explosions light up the night sky merely feet away from the merry band of hard-partying journalists.
The movie elegantly tackles risqué subjects like the forgotten war in Afghanistan, sexual harassment and a clash of cultures with the wit and charm you’d expect from comedic heavyweights Fey, Lorne Michaels, and directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa.
Much like real life, it will make you laugh, cry, and fundamentally pissed off, and it will punch you in the in the gut at the most importune moments. But, hey, that’s just how we like it.