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Film / Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

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Whiskey Tango Foxtrot is a 2016 American biographical war comedy-drama film directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa. It is based on the memoir The Taliban Shuffle: Strange Days in Afghanistan and Pakistan by Kim Barker.

In 2003, Kim Baker (Tina Fey) is a television journalist who is dissatisfied with the state of her career covering low-profile stories. She decides to take a short assignment as a war correspondent in Afghanistan, where she develops a friendship with noted English correspondent Tanya Vanderpoel (Margot Robbie) and begins a relationship with Scottish freelance photographer Iain MacKelpie (Martin Freeman). After a period of adjustment, she begins taking well to the assignment, and despite the danger, Kim stays in Afghanistan for months, then years, beyond her original assignment.

This film contains examples of:

  • Actor Allusion: Martin Freeman being present in the War in Afghanistan, much like his Sherlock character Watson had been (although Watson was an Army medic while Iain is a civilian photographer).
  • Adaptational Name Change: Kim's last name is changed from Barker to Baker.
  • Author Avatar: Kim, even though this is Based on a True Story.
  • Big Damn Heroes: The Marines rescue Iain from his abductors with precisely executed night-time raid.
  • Casting Gag: Kim Barker had described herself as "a Tina Fey type" in the original book. Here she is played by the real deal. In fact, that is what attracted Fey to the story.
  • Deus ex Machina: Vanderpoel is saved from death or abduction by timely Hellfire missile fired from a UAV.
  • Dramedy: Much of the movie is quite funny, but people get killed on-screen. This is based on a true story.
  • Fake Australian: In-Universe. The bodyguard speaks with an Australian accent at first, but turns out to really be Canadian.
  • Going for the Big Scoop: Most of the characters in the movie are willing to risk their lives to get the big scoop.
  • Guile Hero: Kim becomes one in the end, organizing the rescue of her boyfriend (with a combination of persuasion and blackmail) and then using the resulting news story to get a better job back home.
  • The Hero's Journey: Kim follows this pretty well.
  • Highly-Conspicuous Uniform: Kim's bright orange travel bag gets her picked out by a Marine who tells her it's too high visiblity for her to take on patrol.
    Marine: I mean, even the Dutch army don't wear orange. Fix it.
  • Innocently Insensitive: An Afghan villager asks an African-American Marine if they are the Russians. More astonished than offended he points out that he's Black. The villager concludes that the Russians are Black now.
  • The Lad-ette: Kim turns into one, initially earning Colonel Hollanek's respect after she runs straight towards the gunfire with a camera to get footage of the attack.
  • Mood Whiplash: The comic absurdities of Kim's work and personal lives alternate with situations of great personal danger and on-screen death.
  • Semper Fi: Kim becomes buddy-buddy with some Marines.
  • Sexiness Score: Tanya tells Kim that since they're in Afghanistan in the middle of a war, they're ranked much higher than they would be back in America. Apparently, it's called the "Kabul Cute" effect.
    Tanya: I mean, you're like, a seven, a six or seven in New York? Here, you're a nine. Borderline ten. It's called "Kabul Cute."
    Kim: What are you here, like a fifteen?
    Tanya: Yeah.
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: While certain key elements and characters are kept from Barker's account, the majority of the film is rearranged or outright invented based on the idea of the original story.