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Movie Review: Whisky Tango Foxtrot

witness strange days in Afghanistan with Whisky Tango Foxtrot. Image used from salon.com

witness strange days in Afghanistan with Whisky Tango Foxtrot. Image used from salon.com

Since her departure from SNL, Tina Fey has gone on to become a very successful actress with movies such as Baby Mama and Sisters. However, so many of her films seem to have followed the same comedic patterns and a more and more typical style of acting so much so that many of her films seem to blend together. However, her recent film Whisky Tango Foxtrot, based on the novel The Taliban Shuffle: Strange Days in Afghanistan and Pakistan, is something I firmly believe will break that mold.

The story for Whisky Tango Foxtrot feels as if it takes until the third act to get going. The story itself is established in the beginning: Journalist Kim Baker, bored with her desk job of typing scripts, is sent on a lengthy assignment to Afghanistan to report on the war. After being introduced to her fixer Fahim Ahmadzai and briefly getting to know the area Baker begins to report on the war and from here it feels less like a story and more like a series of separate comedic and dramatic events. This doesn’t mean that Whisky Tango Foxtrot is bad, in fact for the most part this style works well as the humor of the film is very effective in the comedic moments and more often then not I found myself laughing and entertained while the dramatic moments were tense, rather engaging and fit in the with film naturally. The film does a very good job of blending the genres together and it  manages to transition from a funny scene to one that is very grim fluently and doesn’t feel out of place or jarring. By the third act. however, a more continuous story kicks in as the film focuses on Baker’s stories being turned down because the network no longer really cares about the war in Afghanistan and feels that the American public doesn’t follow it. To add to that a friend of Baker’s is kidnapped while on assignment and Baker must use her connections and what she’s learned from her time in Afghanistan to save him. The rescue aspect of the third act is well done and really made for a gripping conclusion to the film while the network’s uncaring attitude towards the war in Afghanistan is a nice little bit of social commentary on news media’s desire for profit over educating the public on the world at large. Overall while not much of a story for the most part I still found myself entertained and greatly humored by the film.

The characters for Whisky Tango Foxtrot are well done

Kim Baker is a likable main character. Her initial actions for wanting to be in Afghanistan are rather self centered, wanting more to make a name for herself and get out from behind her desk, but over the course of the film she grows more and more likable through her misadventures and more often then not courageous and foolhardy moments.

Iain MacKelpie, Baker’s colleague, is a very humorous character. At first it seems that’s all he’s going to be a comic relief character but he develops more over time and surprisingly becomes Baker’s love interest. What’s more surprising is that the relationship between the two is well written and makes for some truly endearing, as well as humorous, moments.

Tanya Vanderpoel, another one of Baker’s colleagues, is mostly a largely uninteresting character. She serves as a good friend and confidant for Baker and while that is very nice I felt the character herself didn’t add much to the film until a crucial moment in the third act.

Fahim Ahmadzai is a very likable character. Fahim helps Baker with not only with her stories but helps her to get to know Afghanistan, it’s customs and it’s people. He is an excellent friend and a fantastic character throughout so it’s a shame when he departs for the time being during the second act and in doing so his presence is sorely missed.

Acting for Whisky Tango Foxtrot is very good

Tina Fey gives a strong performance as Kim Baker. Throughout the film she hits all of her comedic cues perfectly and all without falling into her typical style. Her more dramatic and serious moments are also very well done as she manages to give a truly convincing performance all while smoothly transitioning from telling a joke to a serious performance.

While her character may not have been memorable Margot Robbie still managed to give a fine performance. Robbie is immensely charming in her role and turns a character of very little worth into something memorable.

Martin Freeman is fantastic as Iain. From the moment he’s introduced Freeman is magnetic in his energetic and wonderfully hilarious performance. Freeman also has excellent chemistry with Fey and both manage to work off of each other perfectly in their comedic moments and are wonderful together in their romantic moments.

Christopher Abbot does splendidly as Fahim. Abbot gives one of the more laid back and calm performances in the film and it helps make him stand out especially alongside Fey who he works great with.

Alfred Molina gives possibly the best performance in the film as Ali Massoud Sadiq. Molina is wonderfully over the top and hilariously awkward as Sadiq and though only appearing for a few minutes at a time for just a handful of scenes Molina still managed to be memorable in his scene chewing performance.

Billy Bob Thornton gives a brief but still memorable performance as General Hollanek. Like Abbot Thornton is more down to Earth and calm yet still manages to make his presence known from his fine performance and having the most hilarious moment in the film with so little effort as well.

Final Thoughts: Whisky Tango Foxtrot might not have much of a story for most part but overall I found it to be a very enjoyable film. The comedic scenes are effective, the dramatic scenes are well done and both blend together perfectly, the acting is strong and the characters mostly likable. It definitely is something different from Fey as she uses a different style of humor while flexing her drama muscles in this funny and engaging film.

verdict: 4/5

About the Author

Good day to you, my name is Jonathan Gonzalez. For years I’ve loved movies and have been reviewing them for years, ever since I first saw Roger Ebert on Ebert and Roeper during my freshman year of high school for the first time. I am a graduate of Mercy College with a Bachelor’s in Journalism and I have Asperger’s Syndrome, something I am truly proud of.

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