The movie opens with Kim Baker (Tina Fey) partying in Afghanistan with mostly military men while bombs are heard going off in the distance. They pause momentarily... then continue partying.
We flash back to three years earlier. Kim is a cubicle worker at a news station in New York City and is gathered in a room by a supervisor with all the other single, childless staff who are assigned to cover the war. Kim has a boyfriend who is not thrilled that she is leaving to be an international war correspondent in Kabul.
When Kim arrives in Kabul, she is greeted at the airport by Nic, one of her security staff assigned to protect her and a local guide and translator, named Fahim, who becomes a good friend to her. A local woman calls her a whore for not having her hair covered and Fahim tells her she is saying welcome. She meets her co-workers Tall Brian, a cameraman, and colleagues Tanya Vanderpoel (Margot Robbie), a London-based reporter at the house she will be staying. When Kim first meets Tanya, Tanya asks Kim permission to sleep with her security staff saying the UK hires fat Americans to protect her, but Tanya has hot Kiwis from New Zealand and Aussies from Australia that she wants to sleep with. Kim obliges and tells Tanya that she has a boyfriend back home, so she's not interested in any men in Kabul. Tanya tells Kim she may be a 6 in New York but she's a 9 in Kabul to which Kim asks Tanya does that make Tanya a 15?
Kim often goes out to party with Tanya and another lady named Shakira. She jokes with Shakira about her name who tells her the meaning of Shakira and Kim tells her that her name just means white woman.
At the U.S. Embassy party, a man approaches Tanya and Kim with a line about not minding to talk to two beautiful women. Tanya tells him to fuck off. Tanya has a freelance photographer friend named Iain MacKelpie (Martin Freeman) who expresses interest in Kim but is told by Tanya that Kim has a boyfriend.
Kim meets up with Marine General Hollanek (Billy Bob Thornton) whose men she is allowed to interview and go with on routine patrols. The General tells her not to sleep with any of his Marines and not to distract them from their job then they will get along.
On one routine patrol, they come under fire, and Kim jumps out with her camera to film the firefight with Fahim desperately trying to get her back into the car out of harms way. A Marine ends the firefight with a grenade launcher. The General gives a lecture about uses resources wisely saying the cost of the grenade is far more than the Toyota pickup truck they destroyed and the General notices Kim has been filming the entire time telling Kim to get some clearly amused that she jumped into the action.
The Marines keep repairing a local village well, that they assume is being bombed by terrorists. The village women inform Kim that they are destroying the well because their time walking down to the river is when they can gossip and walk about free without their men. Kim tells the General this who agrees not to repair the well and not to tell the men of the village the real reason why that their well kept being destroyed, and letting the women of the village have their secret.
Kim gains The General's respect, and he tells her that Marines say Oorah and the Navy say Hooyah, and she shouldn't mix them up.
Kim interviews Specialist Coughlin, who looks after her in a brotherly way telling her to stay hydrated which leads to a funny scene with Kim having to pee really bad and the whole convoy, has to stop and wait for her to relieve herself. Specialist Coughlin says he never loads his gun anymore and gets transferred to another unit soon after.
Kim, with help from her guide Fahim, interviews a local politician named Ali who many think will become the second most powerful man in Kabul and Ali takes a liking to Kim.
Kim is about to head back to New York to see her boyfriend when Ali calls her to let her know he has set up an interview for her with a local warlord, so Kim stays in Kabul and tells her boyfriend the next day that she has to stay for work.
When Fahim, Nic and Kim go to meet the warlord, who speaks no English. He communicates with Kim through Fahim, asking her to pray for him with Fahim lying to him saying that Kim isn't Muslim but Turkish, so he wouldn't understand it anyways, and at one point, the warlord tells Fahim that she looks like a handsome boy. Fahim is seen reading Oprah Magazine, which Kim has told him will help him to understand women.
Fahim gets married and invites Kim, Tanya, and Shakira to the wedding. Kim asks Fahim if she should buy a dress and Fahim says it's not necessary as long as Kim his friend is there. Kim shows up at the wedding in regular clothes while Shakira and Tanya are elegantly dressed.
Kim and her boyfriend try to Skype over the next 2-3 years, always encountering technical difficulties until she is skyping with him when she sees him in bed with another woman and ends their relationship.
Tanya, Shakira, and Kim talk about why they came to Kabul. Kim tells a story or looking at the same bump in the carpet in her gym under her stationary bike that she somehow was moving backward after all her pedaling on the bike, and she felt stuck in her relationship with her mildly depressed boyfriend she wasn't sure if she ever truly liked. Shakira tells Kim that is the most white woman story she ever heard.
Now a single woman, Kim almost sleeps with Nic, her security guard, but doesn't. Ali, the local politician, comes by drunk, dancing in the street asking her if she will be his special friend and she refuses. Kim gets dropped off at the wrong house coming home from partying one night, and Iain becomes angry with Nic for not protecting her. Iain punches Nic in the face, Nic falls and hits his head on a coffee table and has a broken nose. Kim is impressed and ends up sleeping with Iain.
Kim wakes up regretting it, and tells Iain it won't happen again but the next night they wake up in bed together again. Iain and Kim start spending a lot of time together. They hold hands in a marketplace and a woman angrily breaks them apart shaming them for showing affection in public. Kim puts her security and Fahim in increasingly dangerous situations trying to get great footage for the news. Tanya uses a computer tech named Jaweed who is always watching donkey porn to use his connections to try to get her an exclusive interview but when they drive out to meet up with them they are ambushed, and an air strike saves them. Jaweed dies, and Tanya is injured, but she is elated that they filmed the confrontation, and she is getting airtime.
Kim is jealous that Tanya is getting more airtime yet feels guilty that she is jealous of her when her friend almost died. Fahim tells Kim he will not work for her if she continues to put herself in harms way. Fahim tells her a story about junkies who always need a fix and tells Kim to be careful that she is chasing after her fix of being on camera. Fahim says he has children and a wife he needs to think of. Kim argues with her boss, Chris, on the phone that she needs more resources and airtime, but Chris says that's what Jerry the new boss has told him to do. Kim angrily tells Chris that she is flying out to speak to Jerry herself. Kim storms in Jerry's office surprised to find out that her new boss Jerry is a woman named Geri. Geri tells Kim that America doesn't want to see the war on the news anymore, or she needs more interesting stories like Tanya. Geri tells Kim that she is hiring Tanya and assumed that Tanya and Kim flew in together. Kim is shocked and runs into a conference room to find Tanya. Tanya tells her that she would have done the same thing. Kim tells her it's not about the job, that Jaweed died, and she used people. Tanya tells her that Specialist Coughlin, one of the first men Kim interviewed, lost both of his legs to an IED blast when he was transferred soon after her interview with him. Kim leaves feeling dejected. She calls Iain, who tells her she needs a break from Kabul & tells her to meet him in Glasgow so she takes a flight there.
When Kim's flight lands, she receives text messages from her colleagues in Kabul that Iain has gone missing and may have been kidnapped. Kim rushed back to Kabul greeted by Fahim at the airport, and she goes to ask the General if he can help her get Iain. Kim says she can get his Marines screen time that could mean more funds from the government. He says he can't take his Marines in blind, and she needs more Intel about where Iain is.
Kim goes to Ali asking if she can help her find Iain and blackmails him into helping her with camera footage of him dancing in the street drunk. Tall Brian goes with the Marines to film them on their rescue mission to save Iain. Iain returns and is grateful to Kim. Kim asks where will this relationship end and tells Iain that Kabul is not normal, and she needs to leave before she convinced herself that it is. Kim tells Iain she asked her job for a transfer to Washington D.C. or New York City and tells him he knows where he can find her if he wants his scarf back.
Kim leaves Kabul and shares a tender goodbye with Fahim, who says he had Irish twins with his wife in the time that Kim has been in Kabul and at the airport Kim asks Fahim if the junkies ever got better. She tells him she wants to hug him, but they briefly brush their hands as he passes Kim her luggage.
Kim goes to see Specialist Coughlin, who is a double amputee but seems to be enjoying his life with his wife and child. Kim tells him she feels guilty for what happened to him. Coughlin tells her she gives herself too much credit to think she caused any of it. He doesn't blame her and doesn't want her to blame herself. Coughlin reminds her that a lot of things happened in Kabul and that they were trying to make the best of a bad situation they had not control over.
The final scene shows a flash-forward on Kim, now a regular news anchor in New York, about to interview Iain MacKelpie on her show for a book he has written. Iain tells her he will be in New York soon for his book tour and asks her if she would meet him like to meet him for coffee and Kim smiles.
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