It is often said that war is hell. Well, it can also be pretty absurd as well and, if you’re going to wander through the absurd side of hell, who better to be your tour guide than Tina Fey?
In the movie “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot,” Fey plays Kim Baker, a real-life war correspondent who left her mundane job as a copywriter to cover the muddled, forgotten conflict in Afghanistan in the middle of the last decade.
The problem with this movie is it is neither too nuts nor too serious, which lands it ho-humly in the middle of the road without much to say that is new or interesting. Thank goodness Fey is there with her wit and charm to drag the whole thing across the finish line and keep the proceedings just entertaining enough to hold your attention.
When we first meet Kim, she is stuck in a big fat rut when her network dangles the opportunity for a three-month stint in Kabul covering the war.
With almost no experience in the field, Kim jumps in with both feet and finds herself notching as many failures as successes. She depends on the friendship of more seasoned journalists like Tanya Vanderpoel (Margot Robbie) and Iain MacKelpie (Martin Freeman) and her Afghan interpreter Fahim (Christopher Abbott) to keep her alive and to keep her sane.
Kim finds herself in firefights, interviewing warlords and doing some hard-partying; and eventually doing all quite successfully.
She earns the respect of hardnosed General Hollanek (Billy Bob Thornton in a lively performance) along with the unwanted, amorous attentions of a high-ranking Afghan official (Alfred Molina, whose ethnic ambiguity means you never know what accent he’ll be sporting next).
Kim does get in a bit over her head as she takes greater risks and parties harder as she succumbs to the adrenaline addiction that seems to plague all of her colleagues. But again, none of this is taken all that seriously as a moment of levity is always just around the corner.
The movie is a bit slow and directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa don’t really seem interested in moving things along, they just let the plot meander at its own pace.
“Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” is interesting and mildly entertaining, but not much else. There is a lot of fertile territory to cover here, but it is odd to see a movie about a woman who was bold and daring take so few chances. The movie is good, but you can’t help but feel it could have been great.
“Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” is rated R for pervasive language, some sexual content, drug use, and violent war images.