Movie of the Day – Four Lions
June 4, 2011 1 Comment
Yep, this is a comedy about a group of terrorists looking to perform an act of terrorism. Now hear me out for a second before everyone starts getting fucking butt hurt about this. While the subject matter of terrorism and fundamentalism is hot button issues, one that I will stray away from since this is a fucking movie blog, but there is unique about seeing a first time director tackling such an issue as to present it in a very farcical way. While the movie is a black, black comedy, it sheds light on the act of radical fanaticism and how those that are indoctrinated pick and choose the source of their beliefs and what they are willing to do to carry out the message. This is an interesting movie coming from a first time director and I think it deserves to have more coverage.
The story of Four Lions follows a group of Muslims living in Sheffield, England and their hope to one day become suicide bombers. We follow separate story lines, Omar and Waj, who both travel to Pakistan to train to become jihadist, Barry (who is a white convert Islam) and Faisal both try and use crows as bomb delivery mechanism, and a fifth character Hassan who is recruited in Pakistan. Once all the members meet up again in England, they start their plan to acquire material to carry out a bombing. They start to devise potential targets and eventually things go south in a very comedic fashion.
Now I don’t want to give away what happens in the movie or where the comedy takes us, but this is a must see for the subject matter alone. I view satire, which is what this movie is, as the best way to explain touchy situations or topic. I mean millions of people watch The Daily Show and The Colbert Report as their main new sources, but those shows lampoon world events, giving us a comedic breakdown on situations. They way they deliver the message is used through comedy, but they still have impact, getting people informed of the farce that takes places across the globe. So why not use comedy, in the form of black comedy, to portray real world issues about fanaticism and radical suicide bombing? Chris Morris took great care and detail about crafting a story that is grounded in reality. I read up about his interviews with terror experts, imams, local Muslims, and special forces that deal with the topic of terrorism. This adds to the realism of the movie since it touches on the idea of home grown terrorists. The men in the movie are born and raised in Sheffield, so this adds impact to the movie as it is no longer about faceless terrorism. These are people that helped make up the economy of the town they lived in.
I think the movie handled real examples of terrorism plotting in a funny way, so as to make it easier for us to take in the movie and the message. The scene where the group is trying to figure out the most effective target to bomb is hilarious. You have multiple characters, throwing out different locations and the implications of what would make the most political impact, what would act as the best false flag attack and who can we effect the most. The conversation is funny since the banter back and forth is just everybody making fun of each others decisions. Why that is effective is that while tinged with humor, those are actual decisions that go into the mindset of carrying out the act. That underlying sense of truth just reinforces the dark comedy aspect of the movie as they are presenting it all in a satirical lens.
For some people, joking and making fun of terrorism as a subject can be seen as insensitive. If it was played as a straight slapstick film, this movie wouldn’t be any good. But by presenting factual scenarios that go into the planning of a terror act and throwing comedy on top of it as a secondary thought, then you have a good satire. Heck take a look at Thank You For Smoking that was about the state of Tobacco and lobbyists that push and spin the truth. While it is a satire on the politics of tobacco, there is truth in what is presented. Four Lions doesn’t shy away from the topic of terrorism and jihadists, it embraces this subject matter, makes a joke about it and moves on. We should be able to laugh at anything we want, so why not a movie like this. I think when you watch movie, understand that the tone is of a dark comedy. The movie tackles the silly notion of radical fanaticism and how it effects those who blindly follow it. As bumbling as the characters are, the actors did an amazing job humanizing these characters and not making them these faceless killers.
See it, talk about it, and enjoy it. That is all that you can really do with a movie like this. Appreciate that someone took an extreme chance on creating a movie that is polarizing to some people and that Chris Morris created a movie that very well could have been his last movie if it didn’t go right. This is on Netflix Watch Instantly so there should be no reason to not see the movie.