Whiskey Tango Foxtrot is a 2016 American biographical war comedy-drama film directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, and written by Robert Carlock, based on the memoir The Taliban Shuffle: Strange Days in Afghanistan and Pakistan by Kim Barker. The film stars Tina Fey, Margot Robbie, Martin Freeman, Christopher Abbott, Alfred Molina and Billy Bob Thornton. It was released on March 4, 2016 by Paramount Pictures.
Dissatisfied with the state of her career covering low-profile stories, television journalist Kim Baker (Tina Fey) agrees to take a short assignment as a war correspondent in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom, to the disappointment of her boyfriend Chris (Josh Charles), who also spends a lot of time traveling. Assigned low-budget living quarters with other international journalists, she begins friendships with noted BBC correspondent Tanya Vanderpoel (Margot Robbie) and openly lecherous Scottish freelance photographer Iain MacKelpie (Martin Freeman). After a period of adjustment aided by her Afghan “fixer” Fahim Ahmadzai (Christopher Abbott), she begins taking well to the assignment, eliciting frank remarks on camera from soldiers questioning the value of their assignment there, and putting herself in harm’s way to capture combat incidents on video. American Marines commander General (previously Colonel) Hollanek (Billy Bob Thornton) takes a dim view of her, as an inexperienced nuisance.
Despite the danger, Kim stays in Afghanistan for months, then years beyond her original assignment. She catches Chris unprepared with a middle-of-the-night video call, and finds him with another woman, ending their relationship. Against her better judgment, she begins a sexual relationship with Iain, which over time also develops into a more personal one. Although her status as a woman presents challenges in a society which places restrictive roles on women, she also uses it to her advantage, gaining access to women in a village who explain that they’ve been sabotaging the US-built well because they welcome the daily walk to the river away from the men, and recklessly carrying a camera under a burqa to record a religious demonstration. She also walks a tightrope, taking advantage of the thinly-veiled sexual interest of Afghan Attorney General Ali Massoud Sadiq (Alfred Molina) to use him as a source. Fahim – who treated opium addicts before the war – cautions her, pointing out that danger can be like a drug.
Despite their mutual friendliness, Kim remains in competition with other journalists for stories and for resources from their employers back home. Kim flies to New York to argue for more support from her network’s new boss, only to discover that Tanya is slated to take over from her. Meanwhile, Iain is kidnapped for ransom while traveling cross-country to cover a developing story that Kim had been working on. Kim returns “home” to Afghanistan, where she blackmails her “special friend”, Ali, for information about Iain’s whereabouts, and impresses upon Hollanek the political value to him of rescuing Iain. The mission – accompanied by Kim’s cameraman – is a success, both militarily and journalistically. However, shortly after Iain’s rescue Kim becomes disillusioned, with her tentative relationship as well as her station. She then bids farewell to her colleagues and to Fahim, and returns to the U.S. to stay.