Thursday, 13 May 2010

Four Lions (2010)

Synopsis: Five hapless Islamic jihadists plot to blow themselves up in the north of England. Sadly, they succeed but with hilarious results along the way.

Chris Morris' satire on British suicide bombers is a very funny and very sad tale. I found myself laughing out loud one minute and then gasping with shock and disbelief the next.

I reckon Morris and his team got the tone just about right, with excellent characterisation from straight man Omar and his goonish team mates. They all play off against each other really well, with some brilliant comic touches (I never thought I'd be in a cimema laughing at jokes spoken in Urdu). The comic/tragic acting is pretty great actually, especially from Riz Ahmed as Omar. The real struggle for us viewers is in seeing him as a 'normal' family man with a lovely wife and son. He's not a fanatic and we don't get any scenes of him praying with all Eastern-Gladiator music in the background. Chris Morris has really done his homework on this one. They're just ordinary guys who are doing something absolutely extraordinary.

There is some biting commentary on the role of the police, with Kevin Eldon as a sniper taking out an incorrect target. As he argues with his handlers he exclaims "He must have been the right target, he's the one I shot!" echoing what we've heard about the absolute bloody awful cock up (putting it mildly) of the Menezes shooting at Stockwell Tube station.

As we've come to expect from Chris Morris, we don't get trashy sentiment (the short scene in which Omar says a coded goodbye to his wife is genuinely heartbreaking) or glib, patronising sermons. What we do get is a sharp, intelligent, funny, angry and sad story.

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