Monday 17 May 2010


The new film by Chris Morris is now in cinemas. More after the jump...

A group of young Muslims living in Sheffield train to become suicide bombers, but their lack of a target and infighting seems to threaten the stability of the group. Omar (Riz Ahmed) and Barry (Nigel Lindsay) both want to be the leader, but their differing viewpoints could lead the group in very different directions. Should they blow up a Boots chemist or the local Mosque?

Chris Morris's work has always been fairly hit and miss for me. Jam is way too out there but i really enjoyed Nathan Barley and Brasseye. When i first heard about Four Lions i liked the general premise and i trusted a skilled writer like Morris could pull all the wit and satire out of the situation, so i can't help but feel disappointed that he resorts to pratfalls and name-calling within the first ten minutes.

There is some laughs to be had. I like the anti surveillance technique of shaking your head so any pictures come out blurry and every now and then a smart anti-capitalist line is thrown out like "fuck mini babybels". But it's way too reliant on joke repetition coming from its imbecilic leads. Faisal barely registers as existing, Waj quickly becomes annoying and when Hassan is introduced as the young rebel who fights the power with party poppers, you're just waiting for one of them to blow themselves up. After all, it's called Four Lions and there's five main characters.

For a film about young suicide bombers unsure of what they are fighting for, i hoped Morris could wring more comedy out of that premise. What we have here is Chris Morris's most mainstream comedy yet. In fact, in terms of how it finds its laughs, this could be the most mainstream comedy i've seen in years. The whole preceedings are a bit too obvious; a guy picks up a rocket launcher and you know where the rocket's heading. A guy jumps over a wall carrying explosives, it's clearly going to end badly. Add to this the annoying simpletons who repeat the same jokes over and over again (someone could make a drinking game based on the phrase 'rubber dinghy rapids') and you've got a complete mess on your hands.

The film is saved slightly by its fast paced Marathon set finale, which although it does bring the film to its logical conclusion, once again fails to address the mens motives. Of course, the real humour should have come from the absurdity of these young men wanting to blow up their thoroughly westernised lives, but not knowing why. This is briefly touched upon through Omar's bedtime stories to his young son, using the western analogy of Disney's the Lion King to explain his plans to a hero worshipping 10 year old.

Although it's good to see a talent like Chris Morris branching out into cinema, compared to his TV work this is a serious let down.


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