Monday, January 30, 2017

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching!  There were definitely moments where this movie made me Lima Oscar Lima.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot – 2 out of 5

This movie is one of that I first heard of in a news story—what the news story was about, I don’t remember but I saw that Tina Fey was in it and it was based on the true story of a war correspondent and that kinda interested me.  Pretty soon I started to see the trailer for it over and over again in front of other films that I was watching and I was pretty much sold on watching it.  I love Tina Fey and the added benefit of having Margot Robbie and Martin Freeman in the cast of this comedy felt promising.  So, what was ultimately missing from Whiskey Tango Foxtrot that I initially thought was going to be a home run film?

It wasn't because of Tina Fey.  She can do no wrong in my book!

Based on the memoir The Taliban Shuffle:  Strange Days in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the film centers on a bored journalist in a go-nowhere position named Kim Baker (Tina Fey).  When her office offers her up the chance, she takes the leap and decides to take an assignment as a war correspondent in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom.  She’s quickly learns that she might be in over her head thanks to culture shock and the daunting and seemingly unrewarding nature of the work.  However, she struggles to make this worthwhile as she gets to know her fellow reporters and tries to keep her personal life from being flipped upside down.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot has some glimmers of a film that I enjoyed but was, honestly, a bit bored with the whole thing.  One sad element of the entire film is how misguided its marketing was.  The trailer sold the film as a light-hearted war-time comedy but the feature was really anything but.  Sure, there is some comedic elements to the film and I definitely found these moments amusing but, at its heart, the movie is very much a drama that dissects journalism in a war torn landscape as well as how different the cultures are when American is thrown into Afghanistan to do a job.

I admire how the film didn't turn these differences in culture into bad jokes.
Lesser films would have done so.

There are times when this drama worked very well and I enjoyed the commentary the feature was making on the job of journalism and the struggle of a woman in the business.  The problem that ending up harming this element of the film is how unfocused the entire plot felt and how the running length felt too long.  The whole movie felt like an exploration of little moments in Baker’s time in Afghanistan rather than an unfolding story with a beginning, middle and an end.  The entire time I watched the film I never felt like there was really an underlining story taking place beyond just a reporter having some adventures in a war-torn land.  This ended up making the already slightly long length of just under 2 hours feel even longer.  Overall, it just felt like there was no direction nor an end point in mind for the film as supporting characters are rarely developed well and plot progression felt a bit jumpy.

The plot was a bit chaotic...kind of like a battle situation.  Eh?  Eh?

It's kinda hard to not like Martin Freeman.
Although I do admit that WTF did bore me, I won’t say the whole thing was a waste of time.  In addition to the commentary the film is providing about war journalism the film also has a tremendous cast.  Tina Fey is her usual endearing and charming self and really balances the comedy and the drama of the role in a way that was a lot better than how the film itself handled that same balance.  Additionally, Martin Freeman is terrific as Scottish freelance photographer Iain MacKelpie, Margot Robbie is entertaining as a BBC correspondent (who really needed more development, I feel) and Billy Bob Thornton is very amusing and has some very entertaining scenes with Fey as General Hollanek.  Without a doubt, this is one of the film's strongest aspects.

He's looking longingly into the distance and thinking about french fried potaters.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot didn’t end up enthralling me like I had hoped it would and I ended up finding a film that did drag a lot, didn’t feel as developed or as focused as it could have been and it made for a product that kinda bored me.  However, there was still merit in it in the form of its very strong cast and its representation of journalism and cultures clashing.  Overall, though, it just proved to be not a film for me.

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