"We are the four lions"
Chris Morris's Four Lions is in my opinion the funniest British film of the last decade (sorry Wright and Pegg, I loved your work, but this was just hilarious). Morris took a huge risk by deciding to make a comedy about a group of terrorist friends that are planning their attack somewhere in the city, and it really payed off because this dark slapstick comedy worked extremely well. In papers you would never think this sort of comedy could work because it is just too dark of a subject matter, but somehow Morris manages to create a buddy comedy around this group of incompetent terrorists. Morris, who also co-wrote the script with Sam Bain and Simon Blackwell (In the Loop), managed to deliver a smart comedy in what easily could've been a tasteless film. I would've never imagined to find a film about violent jihads to be funny, but this provocative film works really well and deserves to be seen. It is a small independent film, but has some really strong performances from the ensemble cast and several hilarious scenes that had me bursting out loud in laughter. A scene involving a sheep and one of the jihads comes to mind here. There were several more similar scenes that had a similar effect on me. This satire might be a little too dark for some audiences, but it was the kind of comedy I find provocative since it doesn't try to explore the reasons why these people behave like this, but rather just focuses on the ridiculousness of it all. Four Lions blew me away (no pun intended here).
Four Lions focuses on a group of British friends that are trying to form a terrorist cell (wannabe jihads). Omar (Riz Ahmed) and Barry (Nigel Lindsay) are the leaders of the group and there seems to be a power struggle between the two. Omar is actually more of a leader since Barry has more heart and passion than brains. They are devout Muslims, but don't seem very menacing. The other members of the group are Waj (Kayvan Novak) who comes up with stupid ideas like blowing up the internet, Faisal (Adeel Akhtar) who is quiet and reserved and tries to teach crows how to carry explosive devices, and Hassan (Arsher Ali) who likes to add a hip hop flavor to his video communiques. The friends spend most of their time debating about doctrine and ways they should send out their message against the sinful Western culture they live in. The more they discuss and clash about their ideologies the more idiotic they seem. These men are more of a threat to themselves than to the rest of society, but they are determined to get their message across.
Some of the funniest moments of Four Lions involve the power struggle between Barry and Omar as they clash to prove to the others who is a better leader. Omar has an influence on Waj, who is easily manipulated, while the rest of the gang don't know really what they are doing. However the film doesn't only make fun of these radical muslims, it also makes fun of the police, normal citizens, and even pacific muslims for the way they treat women. Morris doesn't try to make these jihad friends look like villains while everyone around them are the smart people, he just satirizes everyone. Four Lions actually works more as a dark buddy comedy in which we end up caring for some of these characters despite their ridiculous ideologies. Nigel Lindsay and Kayvan Novak deliver the most laughs out of their performances. They stand out in a very provocative and hilarious comedy. I have to give Morris credit for taking such a huge risk with this dark subject matter and delivering a fun satire with some of the most memorable laugh inducing scenes I've seen.