Chris Morris’ Four Lions was definitely one of my most anticipated films of the past few months and I was seriously disappointed when I found it wasn’t being shown in the cinema at which I work. But determined little me decided it was worth visiting a rival to see it with a few friends, and I can safely say no one went home disappointed.
Four Lions tells the story of four young radicalised Muslim men from the north of England as they begin training to become suicide bombers. Quite a simple idea but it is brilliantly played out, as their targets change from a local mosque, to the Internet and finally the London Marathon. All the while, they bicker and fail in their attempts to complete tasks on their road to potential matyrdom.
I have been a fan of Chris Morris for a long while now, mainly thanks to my college theatre teacher who introduced me to The Day Today and Brass-Eye, two mock-news programs. In these shows, I loved how Morris was able to twin serious subject matter with ridiculous situations and manage to balance them into a coherent social commentary, and Four Lions is no different. Don’t get me wrong, it can either be taken as a social commentary or a comedy, and as a comedy, it doesn’t disappoint at all. Any film that has two snipers discussing the difference between Wookies and bears gets my approval.
The production of this film was delayed slightly as the BBC and Channel Four felt the storyline was too controversial, however Morris’ three years of research into the radicalism is evident throughout. Despite the film being a comedy, time is taken to make the characters three-dimensional; there are moments of tenderness between radicalised families, and ironically, heartfelt sympathy when the terrorists begin to question their beliefs.
This is mainly due the actors, who were very well cast and had great comic timing, especially the leader Omar (Riz Ahmed) and Waj (Kayvan Novak), the slow Islamic Jihadi terrorist who compares martyrdom to bypassing the long queues in a theme park. They brought real humanity to their characters, and their chemistry was the backbone to the film’s storyline.
All in all, I felt Four Lions did what Chris Morris has been doing since The Day Today: showing the public that no subject should be untouchable. Whilst the subject of terrorism is one that carries an enormous history and should be treated respectfully, it shouldn’t hold us in silence and fear. Films like Four Lions are needed to show us that we have nothing to fear, and that bumbling idiots are in all forms of life, even the ones dedicated to cause harm. I wish that the film gets a wider re-release soon, as I truly feel it should be seen by as many people as possible.