Whiskey Tango Foxtrot


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot
"The film exposes the haphazard working practices of TV journalism in dangerous places"

Kim Baker (Tina Fey) is a reporter on the domestic desk of an American TV station. She has a good job, a decent boyfriend (so she thinks) and a nagging ambition. It's too easy; it's too squeezy. Where's the excitement?

Next stop Kabul as a war correspondent. She hasn't a clue. She's not only inexperienced, ignorant of local customs, but naive as well. The only other woman amongst the news pack is Tanya Vanderpoel (Margot Robbie), a statuesque blonde who swears like a trooper and treats sex as a commodity you can barter for.

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Forget about All The President's Men. Journalism is a cynical business. The scenes of the press corps partying with lashings of cocaine and whisky in a Muslim country might be excused as letting off steam after a harrowing trip to the frontline except there is no frontline only the Taliban with its harsh religious laws and a corrupt government that allows ministers to flout every rule in the book. And then there are the farmers in the country who think foreign soldiers of any colour or creed are Russians.

These kind of films are by nature gritty. But that's not enough because there has to be a storyline and this one is disconnected. After three years, Baker toughens up. She has a fling-of-sorts with an alcoholic photographer (Martin Freeman with a gawdawful Glaswegian accent. Note to producers: why not hire one of Scotland's homegrown actors?) and feels frustrated when her stuff is being ignored because Afghanistan has gone off the boil.

Fey is known as a comedienne (Saturday Night Live, 30 Rock). This is a straight role which could have been played by Jodie Foster, or Sandra Bullock, or anyone. She doesn't raise her game above the club average although seems more relaxed with the funny lines - yes, they do exist if you wait.

Somewhere hearts bleed for the victims of a cruel civil war. Not here. The film exposes the haphazard working practices of TV journalism in dangerous places and shows a nation in crisis against a backdrop of dramatic locations and urban squalor.

How long were the Americans in Afghanistan? Baker's experience only emphasises the futility, the stupidity and the filthy conditions.

Reviewed on: 11 May 2016
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Whiskey Tango Foxtrot packshot
A journalist recounts her wartime coverage in Afghanistan.
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Director: Glenn Ficarra, John Requa

Writer: Robert Carlock, based on the book by Kim Barker

Starring: Tina Fey, Margot Robbie, Martin Freeman, Alfred Molina, Christopher Abbott, Billy Bob Thornton, Nicholas Braun, Stephen Peacocke, Sheila Vand, Evan Jonigkeit, Fahim Anwar, Josh Charles, Cherry Jones, Scott Takeda, Eli Goodman

Year: 2016

Runtime: 112 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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