Four Lions (R13)

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Review byMatthew Turner6/05/2010

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 102 mins

Brilliantly written, superbly acted and frequently hilarious, this is a hugely enjoyable, jet-black comedy that gets a surprising amount of comic mileage out of its supposedly taboo subject matter.

What's it all about?
Co-written and directed by arch-satirist Chris Morris, Four Lions stars Riz Ahmed as Omar, a British Muslim shopping mall guard in Sheffield, whose wife (Preeya Kalidas) and young son are apparently thrilled that he plans to martyr himself with a jihadist terrorist attack on London. There's just one problem: the other members of Omar's terrorist cell – including dim-witted Waj (Kayvan Novak), permanently angry Barry (Nigel Lindsay), dozy Fessel (Adeel Akhtar) and cocky rapper Hassan (Arsher Ali) - are all utter morons and even Omar himself isn't above the occasional mishap with a rocket launcher.

After a training exercise in Pakistan goes disastrously wrong, Omar persuades his friends to join him in a suicide bomber attack on the London Marathon. However, things don't quite go according to plan.

The Good
Morris apparently spent three years researching terrorist activity for Four Lions, during which he unearthed several tales of common or garden stupidity, such as boats sinking under the weight of too many explosives and so on. Accordingly, Morris's script, co-written with Peep Show writers Sam Bain and Jesse Armstrong, grafts on a British sitcom vibe that feels instantly familiar – imagine Dad's Army recast as terrorist bombers and you're halfway there.

The dialogue is packed with quotable lines (e.g. “I am the most al-Qaeda one here!”) and there are several brilliantly funny scenes, while the script has a lot of fun with double meanings (e.g. the exchange “You're going to die in that gear, lads” / “It's all for a good cause though”) and captures several intriguing details. The film also finds a use for Toploader's Dancing in the Moonlight that is nothing short of inspired.

The Great
The performances are superb and it's a tribute to the actors (particularly Ahmed and Kayvan) that the characters remain likeable, indeed, almost loveable, despite their despicable intentions. That said, the police don't get off lightly either; a key scene towards the end gets some extremely dark laughs while throwing up uncomfortable associations with the de Menezes shooting.

Worth seeing?
Morris treads an extremely fine line but his gamble pays off and the result is a jet-black comedy that is both thought-provoking and extremely funny. Highly recommended.

Four Lions has been reviewed by 1 users
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Content updated: 18/10/2019 03:06

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