"Whiskey Tango Foxtrot" is military alphabet for WTF. That's all I'll say. Tina Fey plays a real-life journalist who recalls when she was embedded with troops in the mid-East. A directing team, Glenn Ficarra ("I Love You Philip Morris") and John Requa ("Focus") guided this R-rated drama using a screenplay by Robert Carlock (Lots of TV) who in turn based his work on a memoir by Kim Barker ("The Taliban Shuffle: Strange Days in Afghanistan and Pakistan"). She got the job because she was unmarried and childless.
We know our heroine will be a stranger in a strange land, an emancipated woman from the West trying not to step on toes in a fanatical Muslim land. See the ferocity on the women's faces when they shout at Kim to cover her hair. After she sees men's reaction when she wears a hijab on the street, she says, "I feel so pretty I don't even WANT to vote!"
- * Tina Fey ("This is Where I Leave You") is Kim Barker, the woman wrote a book about her experiences (see above). She steps into the world of journalists in Kabul, which is mostly booze, drugs and sex. She tries to stay somewhat removed from it by Skyping her boyfriend whenever possible. When she finally asks to go out on patrol, I was NOT impressed by her reckless disregard for everyone's safety! Kim is a "4" in the USA, but with the shortage of women in Kabul, she's a "10." (She will be a "4" when she goes back!)
- * Margot Robbie ("The Big Short") is Tanya, ready for anything. This gorgeous blonde is delighted to finally have another woman to trust and to hang out with. She's a "10" in the USA, so she's a "12" in Kabul. She too, is ambitious.
- * Nicholas Braun ("Poltergeist") Tall Brian is dependable and talented. He can run that camera under the most dire circumstances, so he's Kim's right-hand man.
- * Billy Bob Thornton ("Our Brand is Crisis") General Hollanek warns Kim that she must NEVER jeopardize his Marines. Thornton gets many of the best lines in what is NOT a comedy, e.g., "War is like having sex with a gorilla, you keep going the gorilla wants to stop." (He didn't say it exactly that way...)
- * Martin Freeman ("Sherlock") Iain MacKelpie takes partying to the next level. In addition, he's a seasoned newsman who knows his way around that part of the world.
- * Christopher Abbott ("A Violent Year") Fahim is Kim's resourceful driver and wise interpreter. Their farewell at the airport is both moving and respectful.
- * Sterling K. Brown (Lots of TV) Sgt. Hurd is Kim's first taste of reality when she starts her new job.
- * Evan Jonigkeit ("X-Men") Corpsman Chris has spent so much time repairing municipal systems, etc., he no longer bothers to chamber a bullet in his rifle. Back home, he chides her, "If you think we are making a difference, you weren't paying attention over there."
- * Alfred Molina ("Undertaking Betty") Ali Massoud Sadiq is a warlord elevated to positions of authority in Kabul. Of course the Taliban is NOT involved! He and Kim form a tenuous friendship.
This movie is also known as "The Taliban Shuffle," for pretty obvious reasons. Because it is R-rated, expect extremely profane language, lots of gunfire, blowie uppie stuff and chaotic partying. I was impressed that Kim learned to speak Afghani (or at least swear in it) after her stay was extended from three months to as many years.
By the way, "Whiskey" is the Irish/American way of spelling Scots' "Whisky."
Tina Fey dedicated this film to her late father Donald Fey, who was a Korean War veteran. I appreciated this touching tribute.