Tina Fey is one of the most respected comedic minds in Hollywood, having cut her teeth as a performer and head-writer on American institution Saturday Night Live, before inevitably sidestepping to movies with Mean Girls and broader fame with 30 Rock. Blessed with the ability to make even the mundane entertaining (Sisters), she's here - for the very first time - given something outside of the overtly comedic to chew on.
Fey is real life war reporter, Kim Baker who takes an unwanted job in Afghanistan in order to shake up her safe existence. Learning the ropes fast, Kim finds herself almost addicted to the rush that broadcasting from a war zone gives her and ends up staying for three years instead of three months - romancing gruff photographer Iain (Martin Freeman) along the way.
A fairly straightforward setup, directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa once again showcase an innate ability to blend light drama with moments of comedy and, in turn, give Fey easily the best part of her career so far - which she dutifully knocks out of the park.
Much like Clooney Gulf War flick 'Three Kings' 'Whiskey Tango Foxtrot' works because of the delicate balance of humour with the obvious seriousness of war - without ever feeling preachy or slapstick. With quality supporting players spread evenly over the run time, both Alfred Molina and Billy Bob Thornton shine, while Freeman effortlessly evokes warmth in the Glaswegian shooter that Kim finds herself gravitating towards.
But this is Fey's movie and, after 'Crazy, Stupid, Love' and 'Focus', she's the perfect lead for helmers Ficarra and Requa to mix it up with. They never rely on her comedic timing and the material (based on Barker's book) offers more than enough density to land as easily Fey's best work in a leading role.
They don't make enough mainstream movies like this anymore.