Four Lions. Image shows from L to R: Waj (Kayvan Novak), Hassan (Arsher Ali), Omar (Riz Ahmed). Image credit: Warp Films.

Four Lions

A film by Chris Morris mocking Islamic extremism and suicide bombers. It follows the exploits of four wannabe suicide bombers

AKA:
Boilerhouse (Working title)
Genre:
Film
Released:
2010
Starring:
Riz Ahmed, Arsher Ali, Nigel Lindsay, Kayvan Novak, Adeel Akhtar, Benedict Cumberbatch, Julia Davis, Craig Parkinson, Preeya Kalidas, Wasim Zakir, Mohammad Aqil
Writers:
Chris Morris, Jesse Armstrong, Sam Bain, Simon Blackwell
Production:
Warp Films

Four Lions follows the attempts of four wannabe suicide bombers from Sheffield who plan to achieve martyrdom.

The group have conflicting interests, priorities, and wildly differing intellects, not to mention different ideas of who and where they should target. Ultimately, these terrorists are hopeless!

Leader Omar is annoyed by the incompetent nature of the fellow members of his terror cell: overly keen and unthinking Islamic convert Barry; Faisal, a man who wears a box on his head because it against Islamic law to appear on camera; and Waj, who's as confused and impressionable as a puppy. Oh, and Hassan, an immature joker who Barry picked up at a debate about Muslims in Britain.

Our Review: Created and largely penned by Chris Morris, the man behind controversial comedy series including Brass Eye, Four Lions is equally near-the-knuckle with its focus on suicide bombers and Islamic extremism.

From early stages of production the contentious subject matter caused Four Lions to raise eyebrows. The finished film was little different, with those affected by the 2005 London bombings offering some heavy criticism of the subject matter.

However, longer-term reception has been more forgiving. Despite the undoubtedly controversial topic, the issues of extremism and terrorism are dealt with in a manner that feels respectful of Muslim concerns whilst remaining resolutely anti-violence - unsurprising, perhaps, when one considers that Morris took three years to research the complex issues behind extremism. Nevertheless, it can in no way be seen to glorify Islamic extremism, and has been said to depict the "Dad's Army side of terrorism".

The necessity to handle the subject with such care does, unfortunately, seem to have hindered the comedy value that the film was ostensibly attempting to achieve. There are a smattering of laugh-out-loud moments during the story, but too often one feels that one is watching an odd drama rather than any form of comedy.