Genre: War Dramedy
Runtime: 112 Minutes
Main Cast: Tina Fey
Production Company: Broadway Video, Little Stranger
Written By: Rober Carlock
Directed By: Glen Ficarra
Written By Nelson Cumming
“Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” is based on a novel called “The Taliban Shuffle” and led by Tina Fey which tells the story about a journalist entering into Afghanistan over a three year period. You would think it is a comedy from the promotional material, but it is a genuinely sincere story that engaged me. There were several things in the film that stopped “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” from being great mainly because the first part tries to execute the distracting comedy into the dramatic story. What makes it up is the final two-thirds of the movie when it wholeheartedly tells the story of a female journalist who lived through the conflict of war.
the biggest criticism I had was misleading promotions from both trailer and movie poster. The promoters made the movie look like it was a satirical comedy on journalism in conflict zones. I don’t mind any premise, but the thing is I was expecting in the first forty minutes for “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” to be funny so when the movie doesn’t commit to that direction I was frustrated. It was only after the first forty minutes did I say to myself this movie was meant to be serious. After that, my qualms dissipated. Nevertheless, “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” sometimes tries comedy and while it was not bad wasn’t good either. It was ok but distracting.
That is all that is bad about it, which is not much in the grand scheme of things that “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” achieves. Particularly with Tina Fey’s acting with everyone she interacts with. She acts differently with each and every character while still providing a convincing character that is in some ways flawed and some ways humble. What she does well in her character development as a journalist is she changes her behaviors and perspectives of the Afghanistan war through her time and experience there. Literally in each of the three years, she reacts differently to situations as she grows familiar with the environment.
Tina Fey is also helped by a stellar supporting cast. You get Martin Freeman, Margot Robbie, Christopher Abbott, Billy Bob Thornton, Alfred Molina and a famous actor from “Home and Away” all acting well for their roles by feeding off each other to build a scene. I couldn’t find a bad performance in this movie. Each helped build a personality trait in Tina Fey’s character. It was at the very least interesting and most of the time it was engaging. It was all about the relationship between the characters and the fragmentation that came from it that was great. There were two great scenes with Fey and Abbott that I loved. One of them was the climax and it was meaningful.
The cinematography was good for what it needed to portray. We see dirty, grim, enclosed environments coupled with the bright desert terrains where most of the conflicts are. There was a great scene where Fey’s character has a burka on. She secretly films Muslim demonstrations of shooting televisions. When the camera cuts to a first person view of Fey, she sees the Muslim protesters shouting at her when they discover the camera she is holding. This scene was very good at portraying an unsettling environment without resorting to explosions and shootings. While most of the battle and hostage scenes were not as intense as other great war films like “The Hurt Locker” and “Zero Dark Thirty” it was engaging instead of boring.
“Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” is an engaging film. The characters work, the story works and the cinematography works. There several little things they could have changed in my opinion and it would have easily been a great film. Nevertheless, I liked the movie and there were a lot of things I could write about in this one. Just don’t go in with the attitude that it is a comedy like I did. Maybe then, you might like it even more than I did. ***1/2