Four young Muslim men from Sheffield decide to become suicide bombers. Two get sent to Pakistan for a training camp while a fifth recruit is added back home. However, after an accident with a sheep, it's down to four of them, the Four Lions, to complete their mission and blow themselves up during the London Marathon.
Chris Morris is an evil genius. It takes real balls to make a movie about suicide bombers in Britain, and then to make it a comedy is even more twisted. Unfortunately for all of us, it works. The film is hysterically funny and is one of the best films to come out of this country in a long time. On paper, this is a film that just shouldn't work as a comedy, but the script is so well written by Chris Morris, Jesse Armstrong and Sam Bain (the creators of Peep Show) that you forget you're watching a film about such a risque and taboo subject and you'll just enjoy the film for what it is - Entertainment.
The acting isn't perfect, but it doesn't have to be. Morris has created something where you focus more on the story and the dialogue to make it work. That's not to say there aren't some real gems of performances in this; Nigel Lindsay's Barry, a convert to Islam, is a spot-on parody of Islamic fundamentalism and one of the best/stupidest characters in the entire film. As well as him, Kayvan Novak, most famous as the Fonejacker, is utterly convincing as the "special needs donkey" whose heart is in the right place but his head's too confused to make any sense of what's going on. Arsher Ali's character Hassan is the naive youngster who has his moments, and Adeel Akhtar's Faisal is a lovable idiot. Not forgetting the leader of the group, Omar (Riz Ahmed), who brings the serious element to the group, but he still has his moments.
Throughout the film, you do feel as if you shouldn't be laughing at what's taking place, but at the end of the day, these suicide bombers are so inept, all you can do is laugh at their stupidity. The film is, at its heart, the story of five wannabe terrorists who don't know what they're doing, but it's not slapstick ineptitude on a Police Academy level, it's more subtle than that. Multiple times throughout the film, you get the sense that they don't really know why they're even doing it, just that they feel they need to as part of their religion, that they have the idea and that they need to follow it through just because. As Morris himself said, the film shows the "Dad's Army side to terrorism", which is a near-perfect description.
In places, this film will have you in absolute hysterics, whether it's a simple line about Babybels, an explanation as to which part of a car is Jewish, or accidents involving explosives and animals. By the end, you do feel a degree of sympathy with most of the suicide bombers as they struggle with their decision, but you can trust Morris, Armstrong and Bain to always bring it back round to the lighter, funnier side of terrorism. I cannot recommend this film highly enough - It's quotable, memorable, and genuinely hilarious. Don't let the subject matter put you off, this is ten times funny than most American comedies we're forced to sit through nowadays. This will have you laughing for all the wrong reasons.
This review was included as part of UU Blog's Film Club, go check it out!