Directed By: Glenn Ficarra & John Requa
Starring: Tina Fey, Martin Freeman, Margot Robbie
For fans of: Zero Dark Thirty, American Sniper
My Rating: 6 out of 10
I wasn’t really sure how this film would feel. After all, it was described as a "comedy war film" which, let's face it, sounds strange and off the top of my head I struggled to think of many films that could attribute that combination. Comedy and War don't often go well together and when they have been thrown in the same pot it's created films like Sergeant Bilko rather than anything serious, so I was expecting a much lighter look at war and the situation in Afghanistan. Starting predictably enough with House of Pain’s “Jump Around” blaring out of some speakers at a party, I was sure the rest of the film would follow suit. This theory was quickly thrown out the door by a bomb going off and suddenly you realise this might be a little more than a run of the mill Fey comedy routine. Amy Poehler not in sight, we are thrown into the midst of the difficult and troubling setting of Kabul, where news reporter Kim Baker (Tina Fey) is learning and developing how to to deal with being an overseas correspondent in the war torn surroundings of Afghanistan in 2002.
Despite the serious nature of the film, there are enough sprinkles of comedy to keep the film from being a truly gritty encounter, but the comedy certainly does not overpower the movie in anyway like I felt it would from what I'd seen in the trailers. The writing of the comedy is very clever actually, fitting perfectly with the mood of the situations they arise in. Fey is perfect with her delivery as you would expect from someone used to the comedy circuit, but surprisingly it is her dramatic acting which hits home. Particularly how her relationships develop with the other characters around her. However it was 'good' without being 'great' from Tina and I would definitely be interested to see if she tries a few more serious projects rather than the straight out comedy films we have been accustomed to seeing her in.
The supporting cast is a mixed bunch. Martin Freeman plays love interest Iain and like Tina it's a good performance without truly glowing. Playing a Scottish man who it seems in every scene has to have a Celtic scarf around his neck just to emphasise the fact he is Scottish, the love angle is played well enough but I doubt many will be claiming to have something in their eye and reaching for tissues. We also have present, the ridiculously easy on the eye. Margot Robbie. Unfortunately for Margot her looks are the best thing about her performance, and her actual portrayal of Tanya Vanderpoel, although starting off quite well, lost its way somewhat and I feel toward the middle and end, the performance seemed to get a bit lost. Obviously it's difficult to keep the comedy going throughout as the movie develops and gets darker as it goes on. But the humour does dry up a little in the middle, which would be fine, but I don't think the story was as interesting as it needed to be for that to happen and this made the middle act of the movie fall a bit flat, only for it to stutter back to life again toward the end, where Kim is seen reflecting on what has happened in her time overseas and rediscovers herself.
It just felt that there may have been a much more interesting story trying to break out of this at times, which may sound harsh with the subject matter on show and the fact it is based on a true story, but this is genuinely a movie where my main feeling was it didn’t quite reach its potential. It was shot well enough and the moments of action in a war torn country actually looked very good, which again I didn't expect. That being said this is the type of movie that I don't feel lends itself to the big screen of the cinema. More for an afternoon watch on Netflix or something like that. It's perfectly enjoyable, though probably slightly too long and I feel it could have shaved its running time down a little bit with all the filler/lull in the middle.
Overall it was predictable but tickles the feelers at some moments. It was a good attempt at a light hearted look at war, but it simply didn't light me up, it didn't really hit a moment I would remember in the future and for that reason it will ultimately go down in the forgettable category. Simply put; if you want a war film, this is probably not the dramatic, politically charged action film you are looking for, so go and watch “Argo” and likewise, if you want an actual comedy film, though chuckles can be had toward the start, you may be best looking for Fey in “Mean Girls” instead. On the other hand, if you want a very light, mildly entertaining look at how life is like for a white female war correspondent, then this be the film for you.