Why did Tina Fey leave TV? She had it so good. After her groundbreaking success on ‘30 Rock’ and ‘Saturday Night Live’, the move to the big screen has resulted in a series of forgettable whiffs (‘Baby Mama’, ‘Date Night’, ‘Sisters’).
Finally the spell is broken with this entertaining war-journalism film. It not only provides a perfect wisecracking milieu for Fey but even manages to accommodate her inspiring off-screen status as a woman in charge. She plays Kim, an unmarried workaholic selected by her cable channel to become an Afghanistan-based war correspondent. Instead of crumpling into a crying heap, Kim decides to go, hoisting on an orange backpack (which, it turns out, makes her an easy target for enemy sniper fire).
The real-life material here comes from a 2011 memoir by Kim Barker, ‘The Taliban Shuffle’, and while big liberties have been taken with the facts, Robert Carlock’s witty script sharpens the book into a spear. Fey engages in verbal sparring with four pros: Margot Robbie’s hot frenemy reporter, Alfred Molina’s slimy local official, Billy Bob Thornton’s grudgingly admiring military commander and – best of all – Martin Freeman’s gobby Scottish photographer, who becomes her love interest. The war scenes are only so-so, but this feminist film wins a bigger battle.