Whiskey Tango Foxtrot Review



The title to this Glenn Ficarra and John Requa production is appropriately using the military alphabet to spell out the abbreviated term for ‘what the fuck’ – which seems a somewhat fitting description of one news reporter’s extraordinary adventure in Afghanistan to cover the war on terror.

Based entirely on a true story, we delve into the life of Kim Baker (Tina Fey) who is presented with the opportunity of flying to the Middle East and trying her hand at broadcasting, far away (literally) from the monotonous copy she currently writes for others to present. Leaving behind her boyfriend Chris (Josh Charles) she must adapt to a whole new way of life and culture, as the courageous journalist seeks in providing competition to the successful Tanya Vanderpoel (Margot Robbie). Faced with life threatening situations on the front line, the experience also proves to be the making of Kim, who reinvents herself and becomes a focal point of the social life, alongside new friends – and colleagues – such as the charismatic photographer Iain MacKelpie (Martin Freeman).

We begin three years down the line, where we see an assured Kim, confident in her surroundings, so when we then head back in time to see her first making the decision to leave, and the lengthy adapting process that ensues, we do so equipped with the knowledge that everything does turn out okay, and her initial apprehensions are worth something. The process of acclimatising to her environment makes for the more absorbing act within this title, depicted subtly, picking up on the small, seemingly insignificant details that don’t instantly spring to mind when pondering the challenges in moving abroad. When highlighting the contrasting cultural differences in the Middle East to that of the US, the filmmakers ensure they remain respectful without poking fun or ridiculing others – triumphing where the recent Bill Murray comedy Rock the Kasbah failed so miserably.

Fey turns in a commendable display to more than prove her worth as a dramatic actress, while she is fortunate enough to be surrounded by accomplished performers making up the supporting roles. Billy Bob Thornton plays General Hollanek, while both Alfred Molina and Christopher Abbott also star as locals – the latter impressing hugely as arguably the stand-out performer within this endeavour. However their casting does represent a major failing within this title, which is the inclination to hire white, American/English actors to take roles that could, and should have been given to Middle Eastern actors, of which there are many more than adept to do so.

Whiskey Tango Foxtor also addresses the ingrained sexism that exists within the military – and journalism, for that matter – but it’s never the lead focus of the piece, and while alluded too throughout, the fact it takes something of a back-burner makes it all the more striking, as it shows just ingrained the issue is within the fabric of these vocations and almost how normalised it is too – proving that it’s a problem not limited only to other cultures, but one that’s prevalent a little closer to home, too.