Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Review: Four Lions (Chris Morris, 2010)

Chris Morris' debut film Four Lions is exactly as the promotional poster suggests. It is 'funny' and outrageously so. Set in Sheffield, this Jihad satire tells the story of four disillusioned young Muslim men with dreams of becoming radicalized suicide bombers. Omar (Riz Ahmed) is growing more outraged by the treatment of Muslims around the world and concocts a plan to send a message. He is the brains behind the unit and spends much of the film 'cleaning up the shit' caused by his idiotic colleagues. The rest of the group are Waj (Kayvan Novak) a simpleton who accompanies Omar to a terrorist 'training camp' in Pakistan, Barry (Nigel Lindsay), a volatile and outspoken Islam convert who wrestles Omar in a power struggle which often results in the plans ending in embarrassing destruction, and Faisal (Adeel Akhtar), a bumbling klutz who very often hinders their operation due to his complete incompetency.

Omar and Waj travel to Pakistan to enhance their skills, while back in Sheffield, Barry welcomes Hassan (Arsher Ali) to the group following his demonstration at a press conference. They assemble the materials to concoct their explosives, and shelter at an apartment. After some unsuccessful trial bombings (one which results in the death of Faisal), the group decides to strap explosives to themselves and bomb four sites along the route of the London marathon. The film's final twenty minutes culminates at the marathon with the group battling their own incompetence, their outrageous costumes and the local law enforcement, in a final effort to fulfill their heroic duty for Jihad.

The script is riddled with witty, sharp black comedy while most of the exchanges of dialogue between the group includes volatile verbal bickering and a series of inventive insults. Nearly every exchange features a memorable line. The physical comedy too, is hilarious. But none more so than the concluding sequences as the separated members of the group sprint in their costumes through the streets of London to evade the pursuing counter-terrorists. Even each of their deaths is in darkly comic fashion leaving you feeling both the urge to gasp in shock and laugh out loud. Morris' direction is effortlessly assured, each performance is pitch-perfect, and the dynamic hand-held style captures give the events a sense of innovative realism. Four Lions is one of the funniest films I have seen in the last few years, and after a great response at the Sydney Film Festival, it is destined to have a wide release and lengthy run.

My Rating: 4 Stars

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