Four lions (2009)

First posted at weedjoint.

Chris Morris brings his decades-long experience of being a radical satirist and a creative force across UK’s TV and radio to Four Lions, as a director. The movie, which Morris claims to have spent three years of research on, is admittedly a farce. It was exclusively screened to former Guantánamo Bay detainee Moazzam Begg (much to his liking) to check if it  would hurt UK-Muslim sentiments.

A movie that could easily have been just another feature film about terrorism becomes a scary view into the dynamics and lives of a ridiculous terrorist cell. The cell consists of four young Muslim men who turn fundamentalist and decide to become suicide bombers. Omar (Riz Ahmed) and Waj (Kayvan Novak), who attend a terrorist training camp in Pakistan, actually fall a little short of terrorizing their trainers, much like the American army. Add to this the fact that disillusioned Omar’s revenge for the ill-treatment of Muslims around the world is the most exciting idea that Waj has ever heard or thought of. In fact, it seems Waj has left all the thinking to Omar all his life. Barry (Nigel Lindsay) is a white convert to Islam who advises the others to eat their sim cards to stop federal forces from tracking them down. Waj wants to know if he can cook his before eating it. And Faisal (Adeel Akhtar), who in all his daft-hood trains crows to blow up “slut-houses”, sits down and begins contently chewing on the sim card. You wouldn’t find a more content cud-chewing bovine animal anywhere, not even on the streets of India! While Omar and Waj are away at the training camp, Barry picks up jihadi-rap singing prankster Arsher Ali (Hassan) at an Islamic conference. Together they are The Four Lions (yeah, not five, something happens in between). And they won’t stop at anything to blow themselves up, intentionally or accidentally (more likely), to send a message to the capitalist regime that gave them their better lives.

Four Lions turns into a comical tragedy at the pace of a misfired missile while all the good work done by the flying jokes peters out into the bleak reality of terrorism threatening us. Perhaps, a richer soundtrack would have helped the cause.
Rated: So funny, terrorists might die laughing. With their un-pinned grenades in hand.
The trailer can be found here.


5 responses

  1. I really wanted to like this film… but sadly a brave film doesn’t necessarily make it a good one.
    Chris Morris’s constant attempts to turn it into a slapstick comedy undermines the important message behind the film and dilutes it all into a superficial exercise.
    Not a disaster, but it could have been so much better…
    Here’s my review:

    January 5, 2011 at 7:05 PM

    • Lets look at it this way:
      What have all the serious action movies ever produced done about terrorism than make it more terrorizing?
      So, “at least” in that way I like what Chris Morris has done – made a grim agenda more interesting and the end was definitely a moment to ponder over. Not a graceful moment that but not a superficial exercise either. Seems like you were taking things too seriously.
      But like you said, “it could have been so much better.”

      January 5, 2011 at 8:34 PM

  2. I agree: I am just very pleased somebody actually did a film like this.
    (and incidentally, a it’s interesting that a film like this comes out of the UK and not the US)
    Taking the p**s off terrorists is absolutely fine, but the way they did it was a bit too cheap (and easy) for my taste, and in the end I found it all quite predictable and superficial.
    As I said, a brave failure.

    January 6, 2011 at 1:22 AM

    • lostriver

      @moviegeek Good point there about the movie being made in the UK and not the US. I don’t think this movie was ever meant to be taken seriously, though, and at no point did it seem unusually over-the-top or slapstick to me. With such outlandish circumstances, some amount of insanity is to be expected, don’t you think? And I think ‘Four Lions’ pulled it off without making you cringe.

      January 15, 2011 at 2:49 PM

  3. JYB

    nice review…the film indeed is brave n insanely funny 🙂 i especially liked the scene where they are discussing about blowing up the interenet….damn funny!!

    July 20, 2011 at 5:38 PM

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