Four Lions
Subscribe
X

Get the latest from Beat

Four Lions

fl.jpg

British satirist Chris Morris has built his career on controversial comedy. In TV series The Day Today and Brass Eye, paedophilia and substance abuse become routine fodder for farce.

British satirist Chris Morris has built his career on controversial comedy. In TV series The Day Today and Brass Eye, paedophilia and substance abuse become routine fodder for farce. Turning his hand to feature film in Four Lions, Morris’ takes on terrorism with a characteristic disregard for the politically correct. Unfortunately, the film fails to achieve one oh-so crucial element of satire: it isn’t very funny.

Shot in mockumentary style, Four Lions follows a group of bumbling British jihadists in their misguided quest for martyrdom. Led by Omar (Riz Ahmed), a family man turned fundamentalist, this band of would-be suicide bombers can’t seem to agree on anything – even an appropriate target. Barry (Nigel Lindsay), a paunchy white convert and lager-lout-without-the lager, insists they blow up a mosque in order to radicalise the Muslim masses. Fessal (Adeel Akhtar), an ineffectual punching bag to his fellow freedom fighters, wants to blow up a chemist because they sell condoms. Waj (Kayvan Novak) is just confused. Along the way, they adopt new recruit Hassan, a wannabe rapper who, through his freestylin’, wants to perform “jihad of the mind”.

Under Omar’s guidance, they eventually settle on the London marathon. Why? Because it’s filled with “Jews and slags,” of course. Four Lions attempts to debunk stereotypes surrounding Islam and the concept of holy war, and in some ways it succeeds. This ragtag group of terrorists are not martyrs. Like the film’s inept cops and media, they’re just idiots like the rest of us. That said, the film’s moments of violence are genuinely shocking, serving to reinforce the apparent senselessness of this act.

Four Lions ultimately feels like a drawn out television sketch. Morris’ comedy of errors relies on slapstick humour and run of the mill idiocy, which generally fall uncomfortably flat. While there are rare moments of genuine humour, they could easily be contained in two minutes rather than feature length film.