Fish and Cherries Productions

Creative content from a mad mind.


Reel Snippet – Whiskey Tango Foxtrot


Synopsis: In 2003, television journalist Kim Baker (Tina Fey) is put on an assignment in Afghanistan for a few months to cover the efforts of the War on Terror. Shacked up with other reporters in a shabby domicile, she comes into contact with a number of colorful characters. These include Tanya (Margot Robbie), an Australian reporter who knows her way around the area, Fahim (Christopher Abbott), a nervous newlywed fixer trying to provide good stories while keeping his head down, Iain (Martin Freeman), a Scottish reporter with a lecherous streak, Al Massoud Sadiq (Alfred Molina), a political figure in Afghanistan who seems to have his fingers in everything, and General Hollanek (Billy Bob Thornton), a Marine who has become cynical after so much wasted effort out there. Months turn into years as Kim dives into more and more stories while her friends get worried that she’s becoming addicted to the thrill of danger out in the Middle East.

Review: Whiskey Tango Foxtrot was quite good, but not nearly as much of a comedy as it was advertised to be. It’s more of a dramedy with Kim having to face the fact that she may have a real addiction and that her actions may have unintended consequences. That said, there are quite a few amusing moments, Fey and Thornton being good enough comedians to sell some great gallows humor in their situation. In fact, the strength of the characters and their interactions are what make this movie work so well.

Like The Hurt Locker, this movie focuses on how war can be an addiction for some people. Unlike The Hurt Locker, it comes from a civilian angle, which makes it a little more blatant at the very least. While a soldier’s addiction to war is definitely powerful, Kim is well out of her natural element, showcased when she rushed into a firefight just to get some good shots. People tend to be drawn to things that are new and dangerous, so this sort of thing was practically catnip to Kim. The movie drives the point home by making comparisons to heroin addicts or people who hurt themselves to make their bodies produce similar chemicals; normally this would be heavy handed with the message, but a lot of people might learn a thing or two about those addicts from this movie.

Ultimately, what I like about this film is that it’s a quintessentially progressive film. Both genders are treated equally with flaws and good attributes, the female protagonist doesn’t need a man in order to be useful, it passes that Bechdel Test so many people hold in high regard, and the Afghan people include a mixture of good and bad (like any group of people) rather than being treated primarily as savages. All the characters in this movie are just people. You could switch most or all of the genders around and it would play out exactly the same. That is what stories should aspire to be. It may not be a frontrunner for IMDB’s Top 100, but Whiskey Tango Foxtrot gives us a bright look at cinema’s potential future.

Fun Tidbit: A review of The Taliban Shuffle: Strange Days in Afghanistan and Pakistan by Kim Barker, the book this movie was based on,commented that the main character read like a snarky Tina Fey-type. Well, someone had a crystal ball that day.

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