ReelBob: ‘Whiskey Tango Foxtrot’
By Bob Bloom
“Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” screams disingenuous as it unreels its clichéd story of correspondents covering the action in Afghanistan between 2003 and 2006, while the “real” war was being fought in Iraq.
Even the personable and talented Tina Fey, who stars as broadcast correspondent Kim Baker, cannot raise the level of this movie above the standard and shallow Hollywood fare.
The movie seems to lack a solid point of view; it basically offers a series of vignettes without any unifying theme or common thread — except that these adrenaline junkies in a foreign land drink and screw around a lot, while trying to cover a story that no one back home seems really interested in hearing or knowing about.
Fey, while giving her all, at times seems lost, not certain if she should be playing comedy or drama, so offering a shaky mixture of both.
Her transformation from a fish-out-of-water newbie to a seasoned, foul-mouthed and hard-bitten reporter is sketchy and stretches credulity.
It’s the script, not Fey so much, that is disappointing.
The film is an uncomfortable mixture of war violence, simplistic politics and lame satire. The movie lacks the dark humor and bite of a movie like “M.A.S.H.” or the gravitas of a drama like “The Killing Fields.”
The movie lacks insight into the conflict in Afghanistan and the role played by correspondents in covering the region.
What the movie does best is display the camaraderie among the correspondents who, while trying to scoop each other, also have each other’s backs emotionally and, in some cases, sexually.
Martin Freeman is charming as a hedonistic Scottish correspondent who eventually becomes more than friends with Fey’s Baker.
Margot Robbie, as the only other female correspondent in the country, is cynical and a bit devious as Baker’s mentor and guide to the workings of the correspondents and the cultural expectations for a Western woman in Afghanistan.
A major sore spot is that most of the Afghans are simply background scenery or props — either Taliban fighters, corrupt officials or religious fanatics.
“Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” is mainly an agreeable outing. It’s simply very lightweight and formulaic. Instead of tackling what could have been an interesting situation, it lets it slip out of its grasp like an greased pig at a county fair.
Bloom is a member of the Indiana Film Journalists Association. His reviews appear at ReelBob (reelbob.com) and The Film Yap (filmyap.com). He also reviews Blu-rays and DVDs. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ReelBobBloom. Other reviews by Bloom can be found at Rottentomatoes: www.rottentomatoes.com.
WHISKEY TANGO FOXTROT
2 stars out of 4
(R), graphic violence, language, drug use, sexual situations