Four Lions (15)

Film

Comedy

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Time Out rating:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>4</span>/5

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<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>4</span>/5
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Time Out says

Tue May 4 2010

Media hysteria is Chris Morris’s specialist subject. More than 15 years later, it’s still barely possible to watch an ITV news bulletin without thinking of ‘The Day Today’, home to Peter O’Hanraha-hanrahan and some of the most bombastic news graphics known to man. Then with ‘Brass Eye’, Morris took further aim at the media’s uncanny ability to whip up a frenzy about any old nonsense and persuade gullible celebs like Noel Edmonds and Phil Collins to join them for the ride.

‘Four Lions’ is Morris’s first feature film, written with ‘Peep Show’ scribes Jesse Armstrong and Sam Bain, and is no less concerned with the media’s bending of the truth, even if its model is more ‘The Young Ones’ than ‘Newsnight’. So much has been said about ‘homegrown’ terrorism (like it’s some sort of cannabis plant) that Morris counters the chatter not by reconstructing and mocking the reporting of falsehoods in the style of ‘The Day Today’ or ‘Brass Eye’ but by making a knockabout comedy about five wannabe jihadis from Sheffield.

Morris wants us to point and laugh at these twits: Omar (Riz Ahmed), a family man, outwardly sensible, who travels to Afghanistan and fires a missile launcher the wrong way round; Barry (Nigel Lindsay), a white convert and angry hothead who wants to bomb mosques to make Muslims rise up; Fessel (Adeel Akhtar), a dopey fool with mud for brains who pretends to be from the IRA when buying chemicals; Waj (Kayvan Novak), an infantile and thick brute who sees heaven like the ‘rubber-dinghy rapids’ ride at Alton Towers and views life through an Xbox; and Hassan (Arsher Ali), a rapping joker who Barry meets when he reveals a ‘bomb belt’ of party poppers at a public political debate.

We follow these misguided clowns as they persuade a dumb neighbour they’re a band; as they try to make bombs; as they sing Toploader on the way down the M1; and as they try to blow themselves up dressed as fun runners in the London marathon. The film opens with a botched attempt to record a martyr’s video and continues in the same absurdist spirit. The film looks as cheap as these guys’ homemade bombs; it has a loose, freewheeling air, although the humour of the script is as crafted and honed as anything in ‘Peep Show’ or ‘The Thick of It’ and delights in similar wordplay: Bin Laden becomes ‘some Paki Steptoe’; two police marksmen argue over whether the Honey Monster is a bear; and clueless Barry spits: ‘Jews invented spark plugs to control global traffic.’

Those expecting slick, serious-minded satire might be a little surprised: Morris and his team dress their sharp observations and savage one-liners in the clothes of slapstick pratfalls and broad gags. Many filmmakers who undertook the level of research that Morris claims to have done before making ‘Four Lions’ would have come up with a work of sombre realism that tried to explain its protagonists’ motivations and make us understand them more. Morris might achieve the latter, and there’s a serious, even moving, tone behind the gags, but there’s nothing sombre or even very real about ‘Four Lions’. It’s scrappy and chaotic. Some scenes are hilarious; some are too loopy or uncomfortable to provoke laughs; all strive to achieve something genuinely unusual and essentially true.

Obviously, just to make a comedy about terrorists is daring. But what’s most bold about ‘Four Lions’ is not the gags at the expense of these fools (they feel fully justified) or the finger-pointing at the similar stupidity and incompetence of the authorities. No – it’s the decision to see the world from these lads’ point of view, not ours.

This means that we run along, laughing, with the quiet suggestion that maybe our country is, as they say, just a little bit, well, shit. The film’s opening shot looks like a mosque at night but turns out to be the uninspiring dome of a dull shopping centre where Omar works in security. Repeated establishing shots of a top-flat ‘bomb factory’ place it next to a grim flyover on the edge of a city. We might not agree with the cry ‘Let’s bomb Boots!’, but ‘Fuck Mini Babybel!’ has an oddly rousing ring to it by the end of this uneasy, surprising sort-of-comedy.
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Release details

Rated:

15

UK release:

Fri May 7, 2010

Duration:

102 mins

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<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>0</span>/5

Average User Rating

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Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:11
  • 4 star:5
  • 3 star:7
  • 2 star:5
  • 1 star:0
LiveReviews|42
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bob

i love this film so much it made me laugh so much it was amazing

bob

i love this film so much it made me laugh so much it was amazing

Carol

What can I say, I have not laughed so much or loud since watching Charlie Chaplin or Marx Brother's films! The writer/producer and director deserve an award for the satire and humour, just brilliant and can't wait to download the film and watch repeatedly.. Well done to the actors, scriptwriter and all concerned for a brilliant work of art.

Carol

What can I say, I have not laughed so much or loud since watching Charlie Chaplin or Marx Brother's films! The writer/producer and director deserve an award for the satire and humour, just brilliant and can't wait to download the film and watch repeatedly.. Well done to the actors, scriptwriter and all concerned for a brilliant work of art.

jim d.

A film for the middle classes to safely laugh at islam under the guise of black comedy/satire, guilt free.

lisa

SO VERY FUNNY, stil giggling the morning after watching it, last time i laughed at a film so much was eddie murphy when he did stand up , take it for what it is , just a film

lisa

SO VERY FUNNY, stil giggling the morning after watching it, last time i laughed at a film so much was eddie murphy when he did stand up , take it for what it is , just a film

Godbluff

Having recently watched this movie I can see why it is dividing opinion so much. It's partly about how everyone catagorises it. If you expect a straightforward comedy, you will be disappointed. This is, at times, an OTT parody of life and even old-fashioned slapstick in places - but underneath the humour there is a disturbing, pitch-black element that genuinely reminds you of the disastrous social mess behind homegrown terrorism. Don't expect Brass Eye (Morris is taking new risks here) - but the balance of the ridiculous and the tragic is compelling - and I would defy anyone to say this was not memorable. Love it or hate it - there is nothing else like this around. It feels insane (or inane) but also believable.

jules

Love Chris Morris' early stuff brass eye and the day today but this was just purile made me giggle a few times. But totally over hyped unintelligent tripe. What a huge dissapointment.

Rosie

I'm trying to figure out what people found funny about the film. I thought it was absolute rubbish!! Don't waste your time watching it.

Filmlover

Omg not watched something as funny as this in a very long time! I love waj, he's soo funny!!!!

Filmlover

Omg not watched something as funny as this in a very long time! I love waj, he's soo funny!!!!

Neferkaty

I thought it was funny, i rate it as "East is East" with suicide, I liked the way the actors were totally natural,I see charactors likethese people every day at the shops 8/10 :)

MissTaken

Absolutely fantastic film. I loved it. This is the best film I've seen for ages. Laughed out loud the whole way through but actually is really thought provoking in how ordinary the guys in it are. Doesn't try to be something it isn't. Scenes to watch for are Fissal demonstrating his 'voices' to buy bleach and the police marksmen arguing about whether a wookie is a bear..priceless!

MissTaken

Absolutely fantastic film. I loved it. This is the best film I've seen for ages. Laughed out loud the whole way through but actually is really thought provoking in how ordinary the guys in it are. Doesn't try to be something it isn't. Scenes to watch for are Fissal demonstrating his 'voices' to buy bleach and the police marksmen arguing about whether a wookie is a bear..priceless!

usman latif khawaja

4 lions is the most monotonous and badly crafted movie ever and it seems like 2 teens with a hangover wrote it on a sunday morn and than shot it by the afternoon -with wonky camera shots and the most foul urdu punjabi invetive ever with a hand held camera and just no humour dark or bright -on top of it none of the asians can act as they think oggling their eyes is slapstick - if this is a satire or provoking for anyone than it almost worked as a sedative hypnotic on me - the acting is terrible and the dialogues were even worst -morris snould have seen -mash -in the loop and a few others b4 making this dull and drab satire on the leed bombers - or is it about just a competition in who can swear better on screen in punjabi - i wish i could have even giggled in any scenes but the acting was so offkey -even the better sequences were slaughtered -a definite no-no

Kenji

Who said comedy is an easy genre? After having watched Four Lions I found myself thinking that making a groundbreaking film is not a very easy job. Perhaps Four Lions will be posthumously recognised, maybe the British audience was not ready for it etc, etc, but lest we forget we live in a world where we are being bombarded with images of atrocity and violence on a daily basis. One might argue that going to the cinema is in order to relax and unwind but then again one should definitely not have chosen to watch this film knowing its subject matter - hints are hardly needed in this case. I suppose what spoiled it for me (and I will spoil it for you, so SPOILER ALERT WARNING AHEAD) is that I was not prepared to see people being blown to pieces. You did get the impression this was going to be a comedy about a bunch of clueless, religious, indoctrinated 'normal' people with the occasional glimpse into their lives and a story of a suicide bombing gone wrong but not to such an extent. It would appear as if the film tries to make a difference but tries a bit too hard - I found some of the dialogue a bit over the top and I felt Morris could not make up his mind: did he want to make a comedy of manners or did he want to create caricature figures for an easy laugh? Whichever his intention I did not feel he conveyed it to us in a straightforward way - which, sadly made the film a less explosive (pun intended) experience than I was expecting.

John Shields

I think one of the best things about this film is that it isn't too ambitious - it doesn't seek to take on the origins of extremism (all the characters are extreme at the start, no questions asked), for example, or the relationship between extreme Muslim views and the British cultural mainstream. No - it simply approaches a taboo subject in a good-natured and amusing manner, with some spectacularly good vignettes and standalone scenes that really stick with you. It manages to be affectionate, satirical and farcical - a good little film.

Sutton

I was in two minds whether to see this film. Whether to go and see a film about fanatics intent on destroying innocent people, or go and see an original film by British film makers. With these thoughts in the background, I still tried to go with an open mind. The film is funny, but the subject matter is so appalling, I found it hard to enjoy. Sure, it was well acted and there were some good moments, it nevertheless sits uneasily with me. particularly living in a city that has and is the target for half wits and imbeciles aiming to carry out such atrocities. I guess it showed these bombers to be stupid uneducated people who are easily influenced to become fanatics. …I wonder if the film will be released in America and the reception it gets there.

Rob

I wanted tp see Robin Hood, but the times were wrong, so went to see this one instead. Definitely made me laugh in places, and made me think about the difficulties the real police have when discriminating between real terrorists and pranksters. Having looked at the reviews of Robin Hood, I reckon I went to the better movie.

Dan

A very decent comedy. As pointed out above, 'clash of incompetences' would be a good way to describe it, but the joke never wears too thin.

DV

I was slightly disappointed, considering Chris Morris' track record, but this is an uncomfortable area for comedy even for him and his team. The film had some great moments, but seemed disjointed, and if anything the characters didn't seem angry enough to go as far as they did. In some ways the Dan Ashcroft character from Nathan Barley has more passion than these guys appear to have. Could have done with more examples of East/West cultural conflict. It's a shame that Monkey Dust (animated sketch show) had already covered this so well.

Paul

It's not a daring film, Monty Python were doing this before we all lowered the bar of our tolerance and turned up the gain on our outrage. We all seemed to randomly laugh at different quirky parts of the film and I did buy into the idea that some of these extremists are not endowed with grey matter. I did leave worrying about that sheep.

R Mutt

The film is undoubtedly hilarious and, at times, touching and humane. Like most successful comedies really, Which is an important point - Four Lions is remarkably conventional in tone, structure and feel. Definitely worth seeing though. Also, I am unsure why there is so much debate over the subject matter being "appropriate" - you don't hear any debates over the Hurt Locker or Jarhead.

R Mutt

The film is undoubtedly hilarious and, at times, touching and humane. Like most successful comedies really, Which is an important point - Four Lions is remarkably conventional in tone, structure and feel. Definitely worth seeing though. Also, I am unsure why there is so much debate over the subject matter being "appropriate" - you don't hear any debates over the Hurt Locker or Jarhead.

Mehdi

Funny throughout and most certainly worth the ticket's price.. I loved Barry (the convert) and was v.impressed with his cleverly-chosen and frankly hilarious jihadi name, Azzam Al-Britani..

Mehdi

Funny throughout and most certainly worth the ticket's price.. I loved Barry (the convert) and was v.impressed with his cleverly-chosen and frankly hilarious jihadi name, Azzam Al-Britani..

Jane

Very funny in parts and certainly unusual, but the film quickly starts to drag as the characters simply aren't interesting enough. We learn very early on that they are mostly unbelievably stupid and incompetent and after that it's unsettling to watch them do stupid things with explosives.

Phil Ince

Apologies but my few thoughts below start by telling you the ending so don't read them if you don't want to know.

Phil Ince

Four foolish men behave foolishly and kill themselves by accident, for no compelling reason and with no gain. A too broad comedy about futility. Mix a TV movie remake conflating The Ladykillers with Burn after reading in the style of a Norman Wisdom farce. Not very funny, only momentarily pitiful. There are a few moments - between Omar, his wife and brother - where something true, tragic and funny is shown - but otherwise it's a Farrelly Bros comedy about suicide bombers. Not my cup of tea.

Steve

Absolutely brilliant!!! Cleverly scripted and well-acted I was in stitches pretty much throughout. If you have a sense of humour you're going to love this film!

Steve

Absolutely brilliant!!! Cleverly scripted and well-acted I was in stitches pretty much throughout. If you have a sense of humour you're going to love this film!

philmk

A clash of incompetences. It's funny in the way Dr Strangelove is funny. Brilliant.

philmk

A clash of incompetences. It's funny in the way Dr Strangelove is funny. Brilliant.