Re: View – ‘Four Lions’

The Arts

I’ve never been a fan of Chris Morris’s. All that self-consciously naughty ‘subversive’ TV strikes me as the bottom-waggling of a disgruntled trustafarian trying to shock his mum and dad, just as Lindsay Anderson used to do before him. But I gave ‘Four Lions’ a try, and was very pleasantly surprised.

Probably not the reaction sought from a satire about five British Muslim fundamentalists looking to commit a terrorist attack on London, but it’s a sweet film marred with a sour ending that adds nothing to what’s gone before. The self-styled mujahideen plan to blow something up, their painful thought processes leading them to the idea of detonating in a mosque to inspire other Muslims to fight back. Along the way they manage to blow up just about everything except their intended target.

From this point of view, the film plays out like one of those old Ealing comedies where Sid James and Peter Sellers try to rob a bank, and conjures memories of the Pythons and the People’s Front of Judea.

Waj (Kayvan Novak) can’t tell the difference between a chicken and a rabbit, Faisal (Adeel Akhtar) is training crows to be suicide bombers, and the others are just as hopeless. Their increasingly deranged conversations tie them in ideological knots while the police (equally inept) track the wrong people. The oddest point is that Omar has a loving, UK-assimilated wife and son who support him, which doesn’t quite make sense. But what about terrorism does?

The group’s plans take them on a disastrous trip to Pakistan, then sees them in ridiculous fancy dress outfits, and Omar’s cursing outbursts as he realises the stupidity of his mates are very funny. So why the depressing ending? It’s a black comedy and it has an edge – but to be honest Frankie Boyle’s been making the same jokes for years, and we’ve all had to live with the problem since 9/11.

Still, it’s refreshing to see a comedy featuring the kind of conversations we’ve been having in pubs for years.

One comment on “Re: View – ‘Four Lions’”

  1. Cid says:

    I must admit I thought the ending was the only way it could go, the last thing you want in a film like that is some attempt to show them as ‘misunderstood’, “oh they’re just nice guys after all, it’s fine”. The point is they do actually believe all the nonsense about martyrdom, they’re just not sure they can bring themselves to go through with it. Very good film overall.

    Saying that, I didn’t buy the white Muslim convert bloke at all.

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