Adil Mohammed Javed
Running Time: 101 minutes
US Certificate: N/A UK Certificate: 15
Country: United Kingdom
When I heard that Brass Eye’s Christopher Morris (famous for satirising paedophilia, drugs and charities on British TV) was going to do a film, I knew it was going to be controversial – but a comedy about British Jihadists? Surely, that’s one step up from Art Attack Does the Prophet Mohammed. East is East this ain’t.
Four Lions is set in unremarkable Sheffield where four Muslim friends ineptly plot the downfall of the West through a campaign of poorly planned and executed terrorism. There is Omar (Ahmed), who can vaguely be described as the brains of the bunch, Barry (Lindsay) is a white Islamic convert with lots of enthusiasm but neither the doctrine or the skills to make it count, impressionable Waj (Novak) and thick-as-two-short-planks Faisal (Akhtar). Omar and Waj have a hugely unsuccessful trip to a terrorist training camp in Pakistan, Barry plans to blow up a mosque to incite non-violent Muslims and Faisal has some troubles with explosives and a range of animals, before they decide on a grand plan to blow themselves during the London marathon.
For the most part Four Lions is a highly irreverent and hilarious look at the exploits of four stupid people who just happen to be wannabe terrorists. It’s more of a buddy comedy than a deep satirical look at modern day terrorism but it does carry a decent, well researched social commentary on extremism and Jihad in a British context. The problems are that the gang’s stupidity and Omar’s fathering role, funny for most of the film, do begin to grate towards the muddled, slightly underwhelming climax.
Obviously it’s not going to be everyone’s cup of tea and victims of terrorist atrocities and Islamic groups are already up in arms but if you’re not one of these then you won’t be offended but laugh a lot instead. Morris does well to steer clear of shock tactics and instead delivers a clever, thought-provoking and largely inoffensively funny film.
It's Got: Lots of laughs, a novel topic for comedy, a likeable group dynamic.
It Needs: Not to run out of steam towards the climax.
Alternatives:Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, East is East, The Passion of the Christ
If you only go to see one Jihadist comedy this year, make it this one.