Tina Fey becomes an adrenaline addict in Glenn Ficarra and John Requa’s Whisky Tango Foxtrot, a dramatic comedy set in U.S. occupied, war-torn Afghanistan. The movie starts off in 2006, mid-rager, as a cachet of reporters jump around to House of Pain, snort cocaine, and drink drink drink. Flashback to 2003: Kim Baker (Tina Fey) writes news copy, spins at the gym, and chats up her “mildly depressive boyfriend” (Josh Charles). Operation Iraqi Freedom diverts resources, providing Baker with an opportunity to be an embedded reporter in Afghanistan. In a bit of an existential funk, Baker carpes the diem, joining a motley reportage crew. Under the tutelage of a fellow reporter (Margot Robbie), Baker spreads her wings. Christopher Abbott tackles the role of a levelheaded Afghan reporter, Martin Freeman is occasionally funny as a cheeky photographer, Alfred Molina is awkward as an Afghan bureaucrat, and Billy Bob Thornton is charmingly curt as a military man. Whisky Tango Foxtrot is a soft-R, taking it easy on the sex and violence. By the end, the film feels a little too neatly wrapped up, though that is a testament to its Hollywood precision. Though poking fun of repressive social customs vis-à-vis women, the movie remains neutral about the politics of the War on Terror; on a couple of occasions it emphasizes the historical cycles of occupation: an Afghan thinks the Marines are Russian. With songs by Radiohead, The National, and Pharcyde, the soundtrack keeps things grooving; it’s a welcome substitute for an overwrought score.

In English & Arabic. 

By Alec Julian & Carrie White


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