Four Lions

25 Nov

Title: Four Lions
Chris Morris
Chris Morris, Jesse Armstrong, Sam Bain
Riz Ahmed, Arsher Ali, Nigel Lindsay, Kayvan Novak, Adeel Akhtar, Craig Parkinson
MPAA Rating:
R, language throughout, including some sexual references
97 min
Major Awards:
IMDb Rating:
Rotten Tomatoes:

When you hear that there’s a comedy about British jihadists you may become worried, because there’s a really fine line between crass humor and the awesome black-comedy that the British do so well. Four Lions is part of the latter group, a seriously smart and brave film that will also manage to have you laughing your ass off throughout the film. The film is a very dark comedy, one of the darkest I’ve seen in years, and behind the roaring laughter you will get to see a social reflection that’s actually something much deeper than you’d initially think if you’re just focussing on the comedy.

The thing about this film is that it sheds light on terrorism in a very different way. Movies that feature terrorists always see them as evil people, the ones who will fuck up the film for the good guys, the masterminds behind all the macabre stuff that goes on. Four Lions still acknowledges those horrible actions, but it makes a point to say that even though there are evil masterminds in every terrorist cell, there are also more than a few of dimwits and idiots that are also part of it. This is not a film that goes on to say that terrorists are good people, it just makes a parenthesis to that and says that those who do bad things can be regular guys and, more importantly, very stupid guys.

This is just one seriously sharp and witty British satire, about a bunch of dumb British jihadists who are not really entirely sure about how to go about causing terror. Definitely one of the funniest films I’ve seen all year, and I can count on the British to make at least one amazing satire a year that will make me laugh seriously hard, much like In the Loop did last year and this one this year. The stuff that goes on in this film is all very ridiculous but it’s still taking a look, and a very accurate look to many extents, at a very serious aspect of modern society. The four lions are actually five, five confused dimwits who want to blow stuff up for reasons not even they can make much sense of.

The five guys are all exquisitely idiotic, one wants to bomb a local mosque, the other wants to train cows to become suicide bombers, and there’s this one guy who decides to express his beliefs through rapping. No one in here is a criminal mastermind, I mean there is a leader of the group, that would be Omar, but he’s no “master” of anything, much less the mind. He is, however, a character you’ll find yourself sympathizing with, even though he has a desire to become a terrorist and inflict chaos, there’s a very humanizing aspect to him, more so in comparison to the other characters, that actually gets you to connect to him.

This is a fun movie that really doesn’t make light of a serious matter, it just takes a look at people who I’m sure actually exist. Sure, the idiocy of the five we get in Four Lions is probably exaggerated, but not all jihadists can be master criminals, there have to be some like this, so confused with their lives, and so focussed on their afterlives that they don’t pay mind to their present one. But this is all engaged in a very funny manner, kind of like The Three Stooges of terrorism, all of them doing very stupid stuff that will get us roaring with laughter quite a lot.

I just loved this film. Chris Morris, who directs and co-writes the film, definitely did a good deal of research for this, everything is shown in a fun light, that may be true, but that stuff he’s showing is far from fun, and the film knows that. Every joke or comedic moment has a more profound insight to it, as well, and that’s what makes this movie stand out from being just an ordinary satire. Plus, I love that the film never once condemns its characters, it does nothing close to supporting their actions, but it just lets them be, all of this done to perfection because they shot it kind of like a documentary which suits the story very well. Four Lions is a film that gets you laughing like crazy to stuff that’s actually horrible, but it’s a film that’s seriously well done, and as soon as you start thinking to yourself that the stuff you just laughed at is wrong, a new hilarious thing happens and you start the process all over again.

Grade: B+


3 Responses to “Four Lions”

  1. moviegeek January 5, 2011 at 12:35 pm #

    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:

    • relativelyrealistic January 9, 2011 at 10:49 pm #

      I thought it was pretty hilarious, and yeah I guess it does make it all seem like a superficial exercise, as you put it, but it was one I thought was executed really well. Good review, as per usual. And I hope we can agree, and disagree some more, in the future.

  2. moviegeek January 9, 2011 at 11:23 pm #

    Thanks for that. I am looking forward to more we can agree on if possible. I’ve been reading some of your reviews too. Good stuff, but interestingly we do actually disagree on quite a few things. LOL
    Well, at least we both liked Harry Potter 7.1
    Take care

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