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Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

Year: 2016
Production Co: Broadway Video
Director: Glenn Ficarra/John Requa
Writer: Robert Carlock/Kim Barker
Cast: Tina Fey, Margot Robbie, Tim Freeman, Alfred Molina, Billy Bob Thornton

Based on the bestselling book The Taliban Shuffle: Strange Days in Afghanistan and Pakistan by American journalist Kim Barker (played in the film by Tina Fey), Whiskey Tango Foxtrot takes place between 2004 and 2006, chronicling Baker's adventure as a war correspondent stationed in Kabul during the height of the War on Terror.

There's a scene of Kim touching down after a flight and being besieged with text messages, and the observant will notice that she's getting them on an old-style iPhone – which wouldn't be invented until a couple of years later.

It's probably being picky to talk about an error that becomes a howler when you take notice of it, but it's worth mentioning because it's about the only thing Whiskey Tango Foxtrot gets wrong – it's a pretty seamless blend of comedy, drama and thrills and it's not until it's over that you realise how cleverly the laughs and realism have been stitched together in the script by Robert Carlock and on screen by co-directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa (Focus).

Not even sure what's missing from her life – but illustrated beautifully in a later monologue about an exercise bike – Kim agrees to leave her job as a deskbound New York news producer and travels to Afghanistan to be a field reporter in the midst of the country's rapid post-9/11 implosion.

Her and colleagues including Tanya (Margot Robbie) and Ian (Tim Freeman) live in what's called the Kabubble – drinking, shagging, trying to one-up each other for scoops and eventually (as Kim comes to fear), thinking it's all normal.

For the first ten minutes you'll think it's more like Fey's last effort Sisters – all built around a collection of obtuse gags that are all revealed in the trailer. But Fey's not only a natural comic, this is the perfect role for her sardonic, self-depreciating wit, so when things veer between scary, thrilling and even sad both her and the story follow them without missing a beat.

Focus didn't have as interesting a story or characters, but you could see the assured balancing act between comedy and thriller Ficarra and Requa manage here. The difference is you'll find yourself caring more about Kim and her co-workers no matter how abominably they behave.

Lastly, here's something else the observant will notice when it comes to the casting. After all the kerfuffle over Emma Stone playing an Asian-American in Cameron Crowe's Aloha in 2015 and talk of racial diversity now a background hum to everything Hollywood's doing right now, the studio and directors behind Whiskey Tango Foxtrot must have been sweating over the decision to cast Alfred Molina as a high level Afghan minister no matter how good his accent was.

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