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A Reel Life film section

Issue: Summer 2015-6

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot (2016) movie review

Life in the Sandbox

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movie poster, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, Festivale film review page; 220x343

Movie poster, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot is based on the book The Taliban Shuffle: Strange Days In Afghanistan And Pakistan by journalist Kim Barker.

Kim Barker (Tina Fey) is a desk-bound journalist "writing copy for dumb beautiful people". When her boss asks a small group of single, childless people for a volunteer to be a television war correspondent in Afghanistan, she decides to go.

Kim is so new that she takes a bright orange backpack with her on her three-month assignment. However in a war zone where she has her own bodyguard and life is tenuous, she shows courage and determination and wins the respect and friendship of people around her.

movie still, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, Festivale film review page; 534x356

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 Photo: Frank Masi © 2015 PARAMOUNT PICTURES. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

We see wars on our televisions and computer monitors, and like all things dramatic, the audience soon turns to newer sensations. While Kim and other journalists risk their lives, and their limbs, to get the stories, viewers change the channels unless something 'hot' is featured.

movie still, Tina Fey in Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, Festivale film review; 600x400

movie still, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot (c) 2015 Paramount Pictures

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot are Radio Call Signs (aka The NATO Phonetic Alphabet), words used instead of letters over the radio (or telephone) to prevent confusion. So, WTF?

Exactly. Kim, and veteran correspondents Tanya (Margot Robbie) and Iain (Martin Freeman), live hard in a world of military jargon, wartime dangers, desperate sex, alcohol and drugs. A general (Billy Bob Thornton) warns Kim that she is a 4-10-4. In the U.S. she is a 4, in a war zone, she is a 10, and when she goes back to the U.S. she will be a 4 again. Everything is different, and yet is becomes the norm.

movie still, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, Festivale film review; 600x400

movie still, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot (c) 2015 Paramount Pictures

The film-makers do good work portraying brutality without horror, debauchery without excessive detail, and we adjust to the norms of life and can follow the experiences and conundrums that the characters face.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot has humour and humanity. It compares well to 1983's Under Fire (Ed Harris, Gene Hackman, Joanna Cassidy), another story of journalists in the zone.

movie still, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, Festivale film review; 600x400

War correspondents watch the news from home (c) 2015 Paramount Pictures

This film will 'embed' you in Kim Barker's life and career changing years in Afghanistan, and perhaps remind us that there is a human reality and a human cost behind the 60 seconds bytes on the news.

Featurette: Behind the Scenes

Go behind the scenes with the latest WHISKEY TANGO FOXTROT featurette which talks all things women with Tina Fey and Margot Robbie. Sometimes blowing everything up has its benefits, you discover BFFs and take over the town together!


Twitter: @ParamountAU
Instagram: @ParamountAU

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by Ali Kayn
Australian release now May 12, 2016 (USA March 4, 2016)
For credits and official site details, see below
Search Festivale for more work by the film-makers below.
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Just the facts:

Title: Whiskey Tango Foxtrot (2016)
Written by: Robert Carlock (adaptation). Kim Barker (memoir)
Directed by: Glenn Ficarra, John Requa
Running time: mins

The Players: Tina Fey, Margot Robbie, Billy Bob Thornton and Martin Freeman

Official website:
IMDb entry

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