Who would have thought a film about jihad terrorists would be funny?
Four Lions is a fearlessly brilliant political satire. It follows the mishaps of a group of British extremist Muslim men, who aspire to be suicide bombers. The film presents the terrorists not as sinister enemies to be feared, but as clumsy and idiotic, completely incapable of achieving any of their plans.
The group is led by Omar (Riz Ahmed), the only one with any common sense. Then there is his dim-witted friend, Waj, and the volatile Barry (Nigel Lindsay), as well as Faisal (Adeel Akhtar), and they are later joined by a fifth member, the irrevocably stupid, Hassan (Arsher Ali).
It must be stressed that Four Lions isn’t a parody, or some ill attempt at making fun of the act of terrorism, because we all know it’s horrendous and not a laughing matter. What this film does is very cleverly poke fun at how pointless and stupid terrorism is, by making the terrorists the butt of the joke. It shows that through their squabbles and bickering, what they’re doing achieves absolutely nothing. None of the central characters have any idea why they want to be suicide bombers, so the film hilariously makes fun of the ridiculousness of it all.
There is no doubt that some people will find Four Lions offensive and perhaps poor taste, when considering the amount of horrific terror attacks that have occurred over the years. I am a huge fan of satirical humour and black comedy, so this type of film was always going to appeal to me personally. In spite of its controversial premise, Four Lions does have a heart and it mainly comes from the relationship between Omar and the lovable Waj, who is convinced that martyrdom will be like the “Rubber Dingy Rapids” ride at a theme park. I can’t tell you the amount of times the characters had me in fits of laughter.
Riz Ahmed is excellent as Omar and very funny to watch, as throughout the film, he becomes increasingly frustrated over the group’s inept behaviour. These are guys who manage to make themselves look like utter idiots filming martyrdom videos, and when Omar and Waj travel to Pakistan, they end up causing havoc at a training camp and embarrassing themselves in the process.
It’s only after constant setbacks that Omar hatches a new plan, which he believes will ensure they reach “paradise”, and it involves dressing up in ridiculous costumes at the London Marathon. This film really does make you think about the moral absurdity of terrorism, and the director, Chris Morris accomplishes the task of satirically casting light on it. Also, Four Lions somehow manages to make these characters sympathetic, particular Waj. He is so confused and delusional about his own intentions, you can’t help but feel sorry for him.
Even though the film is very funny, there is still a certain level of cautiousness about its own subject matter, but at the same time, it’s still bold and daring. In terms of the humour, it never actually goes too far, so it strikes the right chord.
Four Lions is one of my favourite comedies of all time. I really recommend this film to anyone looking for a different type of comedy. Four Lions is simply hilarious, with consistently great gags throughout. It’s definitely one of the best black comedies out there.
Check out the trailer below!
Directed and written by: Christopher Morris
Stars: Riz Ahmed, Asher Ali, Nigel Lindsay
Distributor: Optimum Releasing, Draft House Films
Run Time: 97 minutes