"Four Lions": A hilarious "How-not-to" guide to martyrdom
Comedy has a magical way of finding the hilarity in an otherwise serious subject. The film "Four Lions" by director Chris Morris tackles one of today's most serious subjects, terrorism, and manages to find the heart and ridiculousness in it.
The film follows four British jihadists as they figure out what they will blow up to make a name for themselves. Omar (Riz Ahmed) is angry at the treatment of Muslims around the world and is trying as hard as he can to become a warrior. His best friend Waj (Kayvan Novak) is an idiot that will follow Omar no matter what. Barry (Nigel Lindsay) is the white Islamic convert that is opposed to everything that Omar suggests. Fessel (Adeel Akhtar) makes the bombs, but he can't blow himself up yet because of his sick father. These men must figure out what to blow up before they blow themselves up first.
This film is very, very dark in its humor, if that wasn't apparent from the description, and definitely will not appeal to everyone. The film can be approached from two angles: a comedy and a social commentary. The comedy manages to incorporate overacted screwball antics a la "Dumb and Dumber," and comedy that comes from the characters' facial expressions and reactions like the British version of "The Office."
The social commentary, which always draws attention when taboo subjects like jihad are focused on, asks many questions about the motivation of these people, and for the justifications behind their acts. The movie never tries to give patronizing answers and preachy solutions that other films trap themselves in.
Chris Morris is no stranger to tackling the controversial. With "The Day Today," he spoofed the British news, "Brass Eye" mocked current affairs and the role of celebrity, and "Jam" presented some of the bleakest comedy sketches put to TV. With "Four Lions," he made the jump to the big screen and managed to bring his weird sense of humor with him.
Films like Charlie Chaplin's "The Great Dictator," or "The Producers (Springtime for Hitler)" show that taboo subjects can be effectively mocked, and "Four Lions" continues that idea. "Four Lions" is a ridiculously funny film that serves as a warped "How-Not-to guide" to being a martyr.