WHISKEY TANGO FOXTROT [2016]

whiskey

Directed by Glenn Ficarra, John Requa

Written by Robert Carlock (screenplay), Kim Barker (book)

Starring: Tina Fey, Margot Robbie, Martin Freeman, Alfred Molina, Christopher Abbott, Billy Bob Thornton


I was sceptical about this when I read the plot synopsis; a war-based comedy, or a dramedy as some like to say. I saw a few episodes of M.A.S.H. as a kid, but this is obviously a more serious take on war, taking a look at Afghanistan after the war in Iraq began to steal headlines. I wondered how they could find humour during a story about a female journalist turned war correspondent. They achieved this with a sharp script and plenty of humour based around the confusion of different cultures and languages. There are also some colourful Marines, particularly Billy Bob Thornton, who is tough but fair – I wish we saw more of him. This is also a dark comedy, with plenty of swearing, which seems apt as much of the film takes place in a war-zone, while many of the jokes seem a bit… wrong, considering the context. But still, I laughed, a lot more than I was expecting. The elderly people sitting in front of me found it funny as well.

Sick of working at a desk, writing articles that she doesn’t care about, journalist Kim Baker is corralled into a room along with other employees, all of whom have no family or attachments to home. This is because they want to report on the war in Afghanistan, a hard job for anyone. Kim has a boyfriend, and initially she only plans to stay overseas for three months. This of course doesn’t happen as Baker finds that there is a relaxed atmosphere among the press in the country, and she soon forms a bond with the only other female reporter in the area, Tanya (another impressive turn from Aussie Margot Robbie).

I know very little about Tina Fey, I can’t recall a movie I have seen her in. Here though she is convincing as a virgin-war-correspondent who is either extremely brave or extremely stupid, as she jumps into a battle to capture footage. It is her first triumph in her new job, and she celebrates with the press team, an assortment of characters who like to drink, smoke, and have fun. This struck a chord, having read a lot of Hunter S. Thompson. Whenever overseas working as a reporter, whether in South America or war-torn Vietnam, he readily made fun of his profession, remarking that many of his fellow journalists were booze-hounds who only had their jobs because they turned in quality work.

One thing that we don’t find out is: why is Afghanistan now being ignored by news outlets? As someone high-up remarks, and I am heavily paraphrasing here: “the people of America love the troops. But they also don’t want to watch them on the news.”

The film doesn’t explain why that comment doesn’t apply to Iraq, and I suppose deep knowledge of the US involvement in the Middle-East would be required to answer that question. Early in the film Kim interviews troops, and one gets the feeling that they aren’t doing much. They also agree that the war in Iraq has taken attention away from the war they are fighting, but again, we are never told why. The film could have really educated while still retaining its comic qualities. This isn’t the case, in fact throughout the film I constantly wondered why Kim wasn’t able to get anything newsworthy, simply because she was in the wrong country.

The film’s biggest flaw though is that the drama isn’t really apparent since such a humorous attitude has been taken. Despite being in a war-zone, the few action scenes have no emotional impact. There are a few scenes that depict the hardships that females have to go through in these countries, but this is a passing theme that barely makes a comment. This inability to balance comedy and drama is where this film falters the most, which is a pity as it is quite funny. The characters are all a little thin too, though there are a couple of memorable characters, especially Martin Freeman as a Scottish press-reporter with a taste for whiskey.

Despite the laughs, which are well done for the most part, the drama and action take a back-seat. This is a great story and I love that it features two bad-ass independent 4.5 beer - no beer topfemale characters who aren’t simple love-interests, but it fails as a drama, and while it is funny, it isn’t slap-your-thighs hilarious.

One and a half beers short of a six-pack

4.5/6

 

 

27 Comments on “WHISKEY TANGO FOXTROT [2016]

  1. Nice review Jordan. I’m a big fan of Fey’s 30 Rock as well as Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and I thought Whisky Tango Foxtrot’s point about Afghanistan being overshadowed by the Iraq War was insightful. But the plot seemed kind of thin and I agree there wasn’t really anything that really resonated with me after the screening.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I never understood why Iraq was overshadowing it, and I still don’t if I’m honest. And yeah, while I did laugh a bit, its ultimately a bit forgettable. I think I was too nice with the score.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Iraq overshadowed because the tempo went down in Afghanistan and more troops went to Iraq. As Iraq got more serious with more casualties and fighting it got the media’s attention. As troops drew down in Iraq and violence decreased following the surge strategy, violence increased in Afghanistan and troop numbers and media focus switched back to it. For me I understood the reasons for going into Afghanistan in response to September 11, 2001. I never understood the invasion of Iraq. But you know opinions are like assholes and I’m no different. 🙂

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      • I never understood either of them if I’m honest. It seemed like a guess – which country is pissing us off the most – then 9/11 happens and they go and invade that country. Didn’t it turn out that the people who did it were Saudi? Either way, I’ve been against all involvement in the middle-east personally. But yes, like you said, opinions are like arseholes!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Excellent review Jordy! Like you I wouldn’t be sure about this, but your review would entice me to watch, most definitely 🙂 Though I still enjoy watching MASH to this day lol. If it’s done well, a comedy can convey messages better than a straight movie sometimes.

    MMMMMMM’KAY! 🙂

    P.S am I the only person who can never speak in that bloody phonetic alphabet?! My mind goes blank and I can never think of ANY of the letters haha.

    Like

      • Oh no everyone uses it in the UK, when your’e spelling a name or a place or whatever really, most people use the phonetic alphabet especially for letters that sound similar. I hate it though lol. Argh!!! Haha 🙂

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  3. This wasn’t in theaters for too long here in the states. Fey is pretty big here, from her time on SNL to 30 Rock and such. Nothing about the plot sounds intriguing to me, so I passed. Nice review though Dodd dood!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. MEH – I’ll probably never see this even though I have been a big fan of Fey over the years….

    Like

    • You’re not missing too much mate. BTW look out for a review soon, a damned good indie horror comedy. its called Blood Punch, and its fucking gold. You’ll dig it

      Liked by 1 person

      • You just know it’ll be awesome when it is called BLOOD PUNCH. I mean, that would be awesome for a band name!

        In fact it probably already is a band name for some obscure death metal band from Poland 😛 Seriously you have no idea (or maybe you do, who am I to assume) how hard it is to come up with a band name that doesn’t already exist. It took us ages!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Tina Fey is big-time hit-or-miss for me, and the misses happen more often. You’ve convinced me to make sure I see it at some point. I’m just not rushing.

    Like

  6. Great post 🙂 Speaking of Middle Eastern set films made by Hollywood or otherwise, did you hear about that comedy with Tom Hanks called A Hologram for the King or something? It is pretty funny 🙂 Anyway, keep up the great work as always 🙂

    Like

  7. I love the author of this book, read all of her stuff, so I will be checking this one out. Glad to hear it’s not so bad.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fey and Robbie are great, I think it was awesome that they had two females who took no shit. And if you like the book I’m sure you’ll like this, though I can’t say I can compare the two cos I haven’t read the books.

      Like

  8. Nice review Jordan, I quite enjoyed the film too and will hopefully post a review soon. As you can see I’ve been fairly radio silent and trying to catch up on all the posts from the people I follow.

    Like

  9. Pingback: TOP TEN FILMS OF 2016 | epileptic moondancer

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