Chicago Tribune reporter Kim Barker's 2011 memoir "The Taliban Shuffle: Strange Days in Afghanistan and Pakistan" is given the semi-fictionalized big-screen treatment with "Whiskey Tango Foxtrot," a shrewdly observed character piece accentuated by Tina Fey's (2015's "Sisters") likely career-best performance. In this retelling of the true story, Fey's character has been subtly renamed Kim Baker, and her position as a newspaper journalist has been reenvisioned as that of a cable news copywriter assigned to a three-month gig as an on-air war correspondent in Afghanistan. Kim's cramped, imperiled situation in a place far removed from her home and boyfriend (Josh Charles) in NYC makes her instantly think twice about agreeing to the job, but as she ingrains herself into this adrenalized different way of living and working, she finds such newfound purpose she barely notices when her embedded journalistic stay in Kabul stretches from months to years.
"Whiskey Tango Foxtrot" has been falsely advertised as Tina Fey's latest laugh-a-minute romp when, in actuality, it is a thoughtful, character-rich slice-of-life with brief bits of acerbic humor sprinkled sporadically through the script. Directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa (2015's "Focus") and writer Robert Carlock (Netflix's "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt") opt out of overtly politicizing the story, focusing instead on the reality of Kim's circumstances and her affectingly portrayed arc as a woman who finds reinvigorating meaning in her life. Supporting performances are strong across the board, from Margot Robbie's (2015's "Z for Zachariah") ambitious, "15-on-a-scale-of-10" reporter Tanya Vanderpoel, to Christopher Abbott's (2012's "Hello I Must Be Going") kind local interpreter and guide Fahim, to Martin Freeman's (2014's "The Hobbit: The Battle of the Four Armies") freelance journalist Iain MacKelpie, to Billy Bob Thornton's (2015's "Our Brand Is Crisis") tough but fair U.S. Marines General Hollanek.
See Dustin Putman, TheFilmFile.com. for full review