UMP Review – Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot was supposed to be fun, but delivered only boredom – how did they get such cast anyway?

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Whilst war has been portrayed from all kind of angles, the one that remains a risky approach is the definitely the comedic one. Therefore, balancing on the verge of capturing the drama with a witty humor weaved around it and cracking a pitiful joke like a machine gun, is very tricky. Although Whiskey Tango Foxtrot was armed with a star-studded cast, the film directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa is a huge misfire.

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The story in Whiskey Tango Foxtrot is based on factual events taken from life of a journalist Kim Baker (Tina Fey), who left her cozy desk-job to become a war reporter in Afghanistan. As she slowly adapts to the new environment, she finds herself trapped in a void, between crazy life in Kabul and the life, that was left behind.

Truth be told, Ficarra and Requa do have a point in their hard-to-swallow mixture of comedy and drama to begin with – the conflict in Afghanistan remained in the shadow of other trouble spots, mainly Iraq, which directly resulted in the media coverage. Yet, even though they started off from a reasonably relevant and challenging point, they turned the topic into a ridiculous farce. Therefore, the moments, which were suppossed to hit the viewer hard, left no effect whatsoever.

Mostly embarassing choices happened in the cast. Tina Fey in the leading role is struggling to serve double role of drama-and-comedic Kim Baker – in doing so, she follows a sinusoid, in the end delivering an unconvincing performance. Margot Robbie’s over-the-top acting makes one cringe and it seems that only reasonable choice in that hotch-potch was Freeman – he had a lot of fun playing a Scottish gigolo. Moreover, considering the dispute regarding racism in Hollywood, it seems that it did hold no relevance on the set of Whiskey Tango Foxtrot. If Christopher Abbott’s makeup and appearance was not so crass (but his Arabic mumbling was a bit of a distraction), then Alfred Molina playing the Attorney General of Afghanistan is an insupportable mistake.

Left to right: Christopher Abbott plays Fahim Ahmadzai, Tina Fey plays Kim Baker and Billy Bob Thornton plays General Hollanek in Whiskey Tango Foxtrot from Paramount Pictures and Broadway Video/Little Stranger Productions in theatres March 4, 2016.

The execution of the film constitutes a much more enjoyable aspect. First of all, credits go to the the music department – guys did a good job, keeping up with the lighter tone of the story for most of the time (Jump Around by House of Pain was hell of an idea to start the movie with). Although no fireworks happened in terms of artistry of the direction, it was kept in the rhythm of a journalistic material, but taking an inner look into the war reporters’ lives.

Some part of the message conveyed by Whiskey Tango Foxtrot resembles a fabulous drama from 2014 by Dan Gilroy The Nightcrawler, but truth be told, the film starring Jake Gyllenhaal sketched a far more disturbing and atrocious view on journalism. Ficarra and Requa tried the same with a lighter tone and a female lead, but all felt blatant and somehow missed – seems that war is never anything funny after all, even with Tina Fey in the leading role.

UMP Grade: 22/50

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