Tina Fey stars in the movie adaptation of a book entitled “The Taliban Shuffle”, the memoirs of a news correspondent for the Afghanistan War.
The movie opens with Kim Baker (Tina Fey) in the middle of a bunch of journalists partying in Afghanistan while bombs go off in the distance. As Kim rushes outside in the midst of the chaos, she tries to call the story back in to her station. Most of the movie is a flashback to how Kim got to this point. She started working in a cubicle in NYC. Her station manager offered the single and childless employees the opportunity to become war correspondents in Kabul. Wanting to break the rut she found herself in, Kim decided to take the job. She gets to Afghanistan where she gets a crash course on what it’s like to be a war correspondent. The work is dangerous, but exciting and most of the journalists there party hard in between risking their safety to follow up stories that their networks will deem interesting enough to put on the air.
Aside from her local guide Fahim (Christopher Abbott) and her fake Aussie security guard Nic (Stephen Peacocke) her most significant friend/colleague is an established war correspondent, Tanya Vanderpoel (Margot Robbie). While Nic and Fahim show her the professional ropes, Tanya introduces her to a new social life and helps Kim come out of her shell. Tanya also introduces Kim to Iain MacKelpie (Martin Freeman), who would later become her boyfriend. Kim is also introduced to General Hollanek (Billy Bob Thornton), a marine who’s responsible for the unit that Kim travels with to get her stories. Kim gets her first big break when the unit is ambushed on a trip that they were only taking because she was there. During the firefight, Kim leaves the safety of her vehicle and gets next to the soldiers with her camera and records the entire encounter. The stunt is stupid, but earns her the respect of the marines as well as a lot of air time back in the states. It also later teaches Kim a lesson when she discovers that the soldiers would’ve never been put in danger if she hadn’t made a request to try to get a story.
As time passes, Kim gets more comfortable in Khabul (what the journalists call the “Khabubble”). Fahim warns her that she’s becoming addicted to the thrill of being a war journalist after a reckless mistake lands her and her team in the middle of an angry mob. Kim brushes it off and continues to push forward, but she becomes more concerned that the war in Afghanistan is losing air time, making the work that she’s doing there almost pointless. She flies back to NYC for a meeting with the station head, only to find out that the station isn’t interested in putting more resources into this war. She’s also forced to face the reality that the decisions that she and the other journalists made may have cost people their lives or their livelihoods. She tries to take a break and go spend time with Iain, but finds out that he was kidnapped. Kim flies back to Khabul and uses the grit and contacts that she developed there to get Iain rescued by the marines.
Once Iain is rescued, Kim says goodbye to him and Khabul. She’s realized that this kind of thing has started to feel normal and that’s not what she wants her normal to be. Before she leaves, she has a very touching goodbye with Fahim, where the two hold hands using a suitcase as an intermediary in lieu of sharing a goodbye hug. Kim returns to the states where she visits a soldier that was reassigned after being part of one of her reports. He had been caught in a mortar blast after his reassignment, but he told her that she needed to forgive herself for her decisions and that there were a lot of factors that caused bad things to happen during a war. The movie ends with a flash forward to Kim working as a news anchor and preparing for an interview with Iain. Before the cameras come on, Iain says that he’d be in New York soon and asks her if she wants to meet of coffee.
Whiskey Tango Foxtrot
- Good performances from Fey, Robbie and Freeman
- Has a few standout scenes with some good messages
- Despite trying to be insightful and humorous, it only marginally succeeds at being either.