Backroom hack fed up with tittle tattle
Swaps hot desk for Afghan field of battle
Is it a drama? Is it a romance? Is it a comedy? All of the above – and therein lies the problem. A bomb-rom-com which, despite a string of fine performances most notably from star and co-producer Tina Fey, lacks pace and bite in the drama department, sweetness and light in the romance room, and titters and delight in the comedy collective. Penned by Friends and 30 Rock writer Robert Carlock and co-directed by Bad Santa and I Love You Philip Morris writers Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, the film’s title Whiskey Tango Foxtrot is fittingly devoid of an Oscar in that it underplays all three genres it is purporting to explore.
Based on American journalist Kim Barker’s memoir The Taliban Shuffle: Strange Days in Afghanistan and Pakistan about her experiences in the Middle East, this lukewarm “dramedy” charts Kim’s journey from jaded television hack who writes corn syrup scripts “for dumb pretty people to read” to frontline war reporter who will “drink, do drugs and shag strangers in restaurant bathrooms” – including a miscast Martin Freeman as the stereotypically sozzled Scottish war photographer Iain MacKelpie – to secure a scoop back to jaded television hack who is disappointed that after several years of fighting in both Iraq and Afghanistan the American public “don’t want to watch [the troops] on the air anymore”.
Hope for a fresh challenge and a new beginning blossoms and wilts. Zinger one-liners, mostly delivered from the acid tongue of a curmudgeonly Billy Bob Thornton as General Hollanek such as “this war is like fucking a gorilla: you keep going till the gorilla wants you to stop” lose their sting the longer the film meanders from comedy to action-flick to romance. A rescue mission for Kim’s Scottish beau to the tune of I Can’t Live If Living Is Without You is low in drama and high in schmaltz. And the moral of the story imparted by a marine amputee towards the end of the film feels distinctly copy and pasted: “There’s only so much any of us have control of, good or bad. You embrace the suck, you move the f**k forward. What other f**king choice do we have?” Whiskey Tango Foxtrot: not quite WTF! but certainly far from Bravo!
Screenplay Cinematography Performance
Reviewer : Peter Callaghan