Whiskey Tango Foxtrot - The name says it all... - 3 stars

What happened last night? 
Kabul happened.

Walking into the cinema...
 It is not clear if this is a comedy or a wartime drama. It is based on the actual accounts of news correspondent Kim Barker's book, "The Taliban Shuffle: Strange Days in Afghanistan and Pakistan." Should we be laughing or taking it seriously? 

Overall Rating: 3 stars
Cinematic rating: 3 stars 
Bigger questions rating: 3 stars      

          Kim Baker's (Tina Fey) life has become purposeless and lacking any inspiration. She works for a major news outlet, but has been relegated to writing puff pieces in the newsroom, her relationship with her boyfriend has moved into the realm of the mediocre and she spends her evenings riding a stationary bicycle at the gym. Everything seems to be stagnating for Kim until she is offered the opportunity to be a war correspondent in Afghanistan. It is outside of her comfort zone, but she sees it as an opportunity to get out of the drudgery of life. After arriving in Kabul, she begins to wonder about the wisdom in her decision. This war-torn country is so culturally divergent from her life in New York City that she has to decide whether to leave before she even gets started or to move forward on this portion of her journey and give this new life a try. Throughout her first encounters on the field, she begins to get a taste of the challenges and rewards of being a foreign correspondent in a war zone. After some time in Afghanistan, Kim begins to grow into her role and sees how she can influence the military, the news teams and even the people of this Muslim nation, but she must decide if the drive for professional success is leading her to the best decisions with her life. 
       Whiskey Tango Foxtrot sits comfortably in the 'dramedy' category, even though the marketing would lead audiences to believe that it was merely a dark comedy. This is a warning for all who attend to not expect belly laughs, but instead short bursts of laughter in between intense wartime moments and the promiscuous lifestyle of the foreign correspondent in Afghanistan. Author Kim Barker (Her surname was changed for the sake of the script) provides a fine balance of comedic situations in amongst the horrors of war. It is understandable why Tina Fey and her production team jumped at the opportunity to take Kim's story to cinemas. The message of directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa (Focus) battlefield adventure seems to be that in amongst the horrors of war, humour can be the salve to minimise the pain of the overall experience. In determining this balance of reality and comedy, this production has drawn in exceptional talent in front of the camera. Tina Fey leads the way in this pool of talent. Billy Bob Thornton (Fargo - TV series), Margot Robbie (Focus) and Martin Freeman (The Hobbit) deliver strong performances as the support characters, but do not steal the scenes from Fey. The only actor that gets close to taking the film out of the hands to this seasoned comedian is the relative unknown, Christopher Abbott (A Most Violent Year) who plays her interpreter and protector, Fahim. His subtle and quiet presence proves to be the primary conscience of the whole film.
     Even with all of the talent, the key difficulty in watching Whiskey Tango Foxtrot is determining what is the most repulsive within the biographical sketch: the images of combat, the treatment of the Afghan people by the remnants of the Taliban or by the deplorable lifestyle choices of the foreign correspondents. The tension becomes whether this use of realistic artistic license is needed for the sake of showing all of the harsh components of this time in history. Ultimately, it is hard to get past the extreme adult nature of the film which does bring down the overall appeal of the film.
REEL DIALOGUE: What are some of the bigger questions to consider from this film? 
What do you do with your life when it seems to be boring, purposeless and lacking satisfaction? Is the answer to go off and join the circus, change jobs, or like Kim Barker, go off and be a foreign correspondent in Afghanistan? Any one of these might be the answer to the dilemma, but how do you know? In the writings of King Solomon in the book of Proverbs, he states ‘The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.’ In the realm of decision making there can be no greater source for answers than the creator of the Lord. God can direct your path, if you allow him to do so. 

1. What does the God have to say about my job? (Ecclesiastes 2:24, 2 Thessalonians 3:10)
2. Why does war exist? (Genesis 3)
3. Does God care about my life? (Matthew 6: 8, 26)

Leaving the cinema...
It had the potential to be an exceptional film, but it is hard to get past the confronting reality check of war and the human condition. 

Trailer for the film

Written by Russell Matthews based on a five star rating system @ Russelling Reviews #russellingreviews #WTFmovie