Kayvan NovakRiz AhmedPreeya KalidasNigel Lindsay
Four Lions
Medium: film
Year: 2010
Writer/director: Christopher Morris
Writer: Jesse Armstrong, Sam Bain, Simon Blackwell
Actor: Benedict Cumberbatch, Kayvan Novak, Riz Ahmed, Preeya Kalidas, Nigel Lindsay, Craig Parkinson, Julia Davis, Arsher Ali, Alex MacQueen, Will Adamsdale, Adeel Akhtar, Wasim Zakir, Adil Mohammed Javed, Mohammad Aqil, William El Gardi
Keywords: comedy
Country: UK
Language: English, Arabic [a bit], Urdu [a bit], Punjabi [a bit]
Format: 97 minutes
Url: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1341167/
Website category: Comedy
Review date: 27 November 2010
I know, I know. You've all seen it already and I'm the last. It's the Chris Morris British comedy about suicide bombers.
Is it an incendiary film that will cause rioting in the streets? Hell, no. They ran the film past a Guantanamo Bay detainee and he enjoyed it. Fundamentalists also seem to think it's okay, since I don't remember anyone declaring a fatwa. The most surprising thing about this film for me is that it's not offensive. You see, it's not trying to send an anti-Islamic message, or even to say that Killing People Is Wrong. Chris Morris is far too deadpan a satirist for that. All this film is saying is that idiots are stupid, that ideology will always be rewritten into whatever people want it to be and that there's no bandwagon out there that doesn't attract its share of retards.
Personally I'd expect everyone to find it funny. However for me, it also felt more low-key than I'd expected. Understandably, the film has acquired one hell of a public profile and I don't think you should be expecting it to live up to that. It's domestic. It's about the lives of some losers in Sheffield, except that these losers also happen to be planning to blow themselves up.
In other words, it's all about the cast. What I'd previously seen of Chris Morris's work (The Day Today, Brass Eye) had always felt too deadpan and dry to make me laugh that much, but this time the material's extreme enough to overcome that. Similarly the characters aren't being drawn as broadly as you might expect, although their stupidity can be apocalyptic. The intelligent one is Riz Ahmed, who's supported by his loving wife and son. (Yes, that's right.) His lovable best friend with no brain is Kayvan Novak. The "more fundamentalist than thou" white psycho is Nigel Lindsay, and so on. Believe it or not, they're likeable. Their bumbling is fun. You want to keep watching them. You're almost on their side when the police start closing in... except of course that they're trying to kill innocent people.
The film's also even-handed. Everyone's retarded. The police raid the wrong houses, shoot the wrong people and can probably be said to have caused more loss of innocent life than the suicide bombers. The ordinary British people we see are as thick as pigshit.
Oh, and the non-violent Muslim point of view is present in the character of Ahmed's brother, who's ironically far more orthodox in his religious practices than the liberal Westernised Ahmed.
This film isn't trying to make religious or political points, or even prove anyone wrong. Instead no one's in the right. Is it funny? Yes, it is. Do we see people getting blown up? Yes, we do. Does anything at all go as planned, from anyone? Are you kidding? I think the film's great virtue is that it's honest about one of the West's bogeyman subjects, thanks to Morris spending three years researching the script and getting input from British Muslims as well as from terrorism experts, police and the secret service. Everyone seems to seems to think it gets it right, which is quite something for a movie that's making suicide bombers look this stupid. That "everyone" would appear to include real suicide bombers.
Expect a good comedy, though not a great one. I liked it. I wouldn't proclaim it as a new dawn in cinema or anything like that, but you can't say Chris Morris doesn't have balls.