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film review

Tina Fey plays Kim Baker in Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, in theatres March 4, 2016.Frank Masi

In military terms, the fog of war is a cloud of confusion that descends on the battlefield, preventing fighters from clearly seeing their targets. There is also a fog of filmmaking, and it appears to have affected those responsible for Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, a war-set comedy-drama as messy and ineffective as an Afghan suicide donkey.

The absurdity of an explosives-laden ass, alas, doesn't make the leap from the pages of The Taliban Shuffle, Kim Barker's 2011 memoir as a newbie war correspondent, to the film screen; but then neither does most of the rich absurdity she chronicled. Instead, we get familiar Tina Fey, blowing up her desk-jockey life to become a TV reporter and watch things blow up on the other side of the world.

Veteran showrunner Robert Carlock has written sharp female-centred TV comedies before (30 Rock, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt), but they depended on a quirky hothouse rhythm that seems to have escaped the grasp of co-directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa. The dialogue is sour, the politics problematic (Broadway veterans as Afghan locals? Why not?!), and the sentiments sometimes eye-rolling. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, indeed.