By Allison McCausland
In an age of breaking news being at the touch of a button, directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa remind audiences of the risks reporters take and the competition they face to get stories to the public.
Whiskey Tango Foxtrot takes place in the post 9/11 mid-2000s world of embedded journalism as it follows the career of correspondent Kim Baker (Tina Fey) during her time over in Afghanistan and Pakistan. As Baker gets immersed in the culture and on-the-go lifestyle, she realizes just how quickly a story can come and go as well as the equally positive and negative repercussions stories, particularly the ones for Operation Enduring Freedom, can have on lives. Along the way, Baker develops influential relationships with fellow correspondents, such as those of Tanya Vanderpoel (Margot Robbie) and Iain MacKelpie (Martin Freeman).
The film attempts to blend the drama and comedy of the subject matter with little success. Not to be completely dismissive, there are definitely dramatic and comedic moments which, on their own, work. However, there isn’t a proper balance helping them flow together for the tone Ficarra and Requa were probably aiming for. This unbalance leads to inconsistent feelings in the audience as they watch, attempting to decide when to stop laughing or start to sympathize.
Part of the comedic imbalance is caused by the unnecessary integration of visual gags or crass humor. When using satire and wit as weapons of choice for a dramedy, adding gags and whatnot just make the dialogue and story a bit cluttered. The story itself tends to lag, only managing to make it past through the shenanigans of the other characters.
Unbalanced tone aside, Fey’s overall performance was impressive. She manages to give her character elements of courage, competition and light-heartedness as she goes from 9-to-5 news writer to a hungry war correspondent. Her interactions with other characters, particularly Freeman’s and Christopher Abbott’s, add a new dimension to her own as Baker gradually lets the intensity of the Middle East become her new normal.
Although not groundbreaking cinema, the film does offer a fresh perspective on the world of embedded journalism and how these reporters cope with lifestyles most people would view as insane. Fans of Fey’s work on 30 Rock and Saturday Night Live will appreciate the humor she brings to her role while still remaining serious when the dramatic aspects of the story unfold.
Whiskey Tango Foxtrot is rated R for language, violence, and brief sexual content.
I give this movie a 5/10.
(Rates on a scale of 1-5, how much Suspense, Humor, Action, Romance, and Kid-friendly material is in the movie)
1- None to Very Little, 2- Little, 3- Average, 4- Much, 5- Very much
S 3 H 4 A 3 R 2 K 1