RELEASED: 7th May 2010
DIRECTOR: Christopher Morris
CAST: Riz Ahmed, Kayvan Novak, Nigel Lindsay, Adeel Akhtar, Arsher Ali, Craig Parkinson, Preeya Kalidas, Julia Davis, Benedict Cumberbatch, Alex MacQueen, Kevin Eldon, Darren Boyd, Mohammad Aqil, Wazim Takir and William El-Gardi
BOX OFFICE WORLDWIDE: $4.6m
AWARDS: 1 BAFTA (Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer)
Four Lions focuses on Omar, Waj, Barry, Faisal and Hassan, a group of radicalised British Muslim men who aspire to be suicide bombers. Omar is critical of Western society, Barry is a bad-tempered white-man converted to Islam, Waj is Omar’s dim-witted cousin, Faisal is naive and planning to train crows to be used as bombers and Hassan is reluctantly recruited by Barry after a demonstration at a university.
Chris Morris is no stranger to tackling satire with an edge of dark humour, going back to the days of radio shows On The Hour and Blue Jam, as well as television shows The Day Today and Brass Eye. Here with Four Lions, Morris takes a satirical approach to homegrown terrorism after spending a few years researching for it (whilst writing the script back in 2007, he spoke with terrorism experts, police, the secret service, imams, as well as ordinary Muslims) and, to be honest, I’d be surprised if a film would even be made in today’s climate putting this kind of material in any other hands would potentially come off as tasteless humour, but Four Lions is arguably one of the best clever comedies of the decade. This group that we’re following are just five ordinary young men, often bickering amongst themselves about how to target to chose and focused on the next life rather than now, whilst maintaining a bond-brotherhood that makes you like them and that their religious beliefs and political views have corrupted them to join this cause that even some of them don’t really feel fully committed to, yet Morris doesn’t shy away from landing the punch in the final act. One particular moment that stands out is the group are in the van, listening and singing (besides Barry) to Toploader’s “Dancing In The Moonlight”, showcasing that these men are misguided idiots filled with anger, whilst the one not joining in desires control and, as you witness his ideas and attempts of alpha-dominance behaviour, he’d be like that for any cause as long as he got what he wanted. The cast are great here, with Riz Ahmed and Kayvan Novak bringing a depth of humanity to their characters, whilst Nigel Lindsay is terrific as Barry, the comic timing from everyone involved is spot on.
FAVOURITE SCENE: Barry learns that Faisal has been buying a lot of bleach from the same shop, but Faisal tells him he’s been using different voices each time. The writing, the serious delivery of the lines between the two is sublime.
FAVOURITE QUOTE: “Rubber dinghy rapids bro.” – Waj
DID YOU KNOW: According to Christopher Morris, Barry, the Jihadist group leader, was based on a former BNP member who in an attempt to out-knowledge the Asian youths he regularly assaulted, studied the Qur’an and as a result “accidentally converted himself” and became a Muslim.