Sunday, May 9, 2010

Four Lions (2010)

First premiered at this year's Sundance, scathing satirist Chris Morris' Four Lions should have its fair share of controversy. Tabloids, right-wing press, and pretty much anyone with ultra-sensitive moral genes will have a field day hating this film. Quite how quiet the reaction has been is a bit of a pleasant surprise, really. It shows that we have finally come to terms with the events of the last decade and what goes on in other parts of the world where incidents such as these (albeit in much smaller scale) occur on a daily basis. What events am I talking about? Suicide bombing, of course. Did I mention that this was a comedy?

Yes, Four Lions is a jihadist comedy. It is the story of 5 hardline Islamist Britons who plan to blow themselves up for their stupid cause. The catch, and quite probably the reality, is that these guys are blithering idiots. Between them they don't have enough mental stamina to open a can of tuna. They can't even decide on where to bomb, who to bomb, what methods they should use ... The result is, thankfully, utterly hilarious.

This is by far the funniest film I have seen all year - laughs and jokes come 100 miles per hour and though some of them miss the mark, most will make you clutch your stomach in pain. Remember the idiot that tried to ram his van full of explosives into the Glasgow airport, only for his van to bounce back from the wall and set himself on fire instead? Yeah, that guy was a genius.

Riz Ahmed plays Omar, the de facto leader of the outfit. He is the only one with a semblance to human intelligence. He is happily married with a young child. His simpleton brother Waj uses a small-scale replica AK-47 when filming their videos. Fessal has a plan to strap a bomb to a crow. Hassan thinks it's OK to bring an oblivious girl to party at the flat where they make the bombs. Nigel Lindsay is Barry - the white convert whose plan is to blow up a mosque, thinking that it will incite more support. In the end they decide to detonate the bombs at the London Marathon.

It could have been only a slapstick effort. However, the danger that these guys will unleash is never concealed - along the way there will be casualties amongst themselves and innocent bystanders, and various animals. The scene where Omar's wife and young son (without batting an eyelid) give their blessings for him to blow himself up is as difficult a scene I have ever seen. Even the authorities and security forces get their fair share of idiotic moments. The scene where two police snipers argue whether who they shot at the marathon was a Wookie or a bear is comedy genius.

Although the film loses steam in the last 10 minutes or so, the preceding parts makes up for it in a satisfying way. If it is being shown anywhere near you, go and see it. You won't be disappointed.

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