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'Whiskey Tango Foxtrot' is NOT a Comedy

Frank Masi - © 2015 PARAMOUNT PICTURES

Toward the end of Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, Tina Fey asks a question to which she gets, and apparently expects, no answer: Do the patients in the Afghanistan hospital ever get well? And a little later, a victim of an improvised explosive device insists that nobody is really responsible for anything because nobody has any real control over anything that happens anyway.

I suspect that these two passages are intended to pretty much sum up the lesson to be learned from Whiskey Tango Foxtrot: Nothing works as we might expect or want it to, and we might as well just go with the flow. None of the characters Fey interviews among those involved in the Afghan war suggest that anything is being accomplished by it, and nobody seems to have any goal expect except surviving the job of the moment and trying to go on with their lives as best they can. Margot Robbie has learned this already, and in the sequences when she and Fey individually get attacked while in cars suggest that deliberate individual action will in the end accomplish less than doing the minimum one is stuck with and hoping for the best.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot has been described as absurdist, and in such an absurd world, there is little structure or apparent meaning, and nothing seems to be heading toward any meaningful end. But it is difficult to make drama out of such a concept, and many may wonder what all the fuss is about. As many do, about the war in Afghanistan.

But Fey seems to develop an appreciation for a life in which at least the moment's specific task had some meaning, if only survival.

It has been suggested that Fey's character, like the protagonists of Hurt Locker and American Sniper, has something wrong with her; I think the point is more that the world has something wrong with it and we may not be able to do much about it. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot is NOT a comedy.