Directed by Christopher Morris
Written by Sam Bain, Jesse Armstrong and Christopher Morris
On general release from 7th May 2010
Throughout an often brilliant two decade career, Chris Morris (The Day
Today, Brass Eye, Jam, Nathan Barley) has used controversy to delightfully
subversive effect, holding a darkened mirror up to the media and other
pillars of the establishment. But controversy and comedy are not necessarily
the same thing, and there are times when Morris' big screen debut falls
short for precisely that reason.
The first (and presumably last) 'suicide bomb-com', Four Lions tells
the tale of four jihadists, bent on holy war against western imperialist
infidels in the Yorkshire area. Sheep, crows and pharmacists beware!
Apart from their de facto leader Omar (the promising Riz Ahmed), the
gang are confused and emotionally stunted shambling incompetents. Much
of the comedy comes from the synthesis of their reactionary extremism
and extreme ordinariness. This leads them down "a sad, fucked-up
cul-de-sac of rubbish", according to Morris, and it's hard to disagree.
But then who amongst us hasn't taken a trip down the odd one of those?
Amongst all the laughs, the most powerful moments come in moments of
vulnerability, such as when Omar tells his child a mujahid version of
The Lion King, or the easily misled Waj (Kayvan Novak) expresses doubts
about blowing himself up during the London marathon. In these precious
few moments, we are presented with scared and naive young men, trying
to help those suffering in Afghanistan and around the Muslim world with
the very limited resources at their disposal. Peep Show writers Sam Bain
and Jesse Armstrong bring out the farcical futility of it all with great
skill, but ultimately Morris and co. gleefully surf the wave of jihad
madness, rather than engaging with it on any meaningful level.