Four Lions

I suppose the fact that people can make a comedy about terrorists is an indication of how far we’ve come since the hysteria following the September 11th attacks. Four Lions was directed and co-written by Chris Morris, who, I’m told, is sort of an English version of Jon Stewart. This film is often called a “satire”, though satirizing terrorism is a bit like satirizing Nazism: an exercise in demonstrating the obvious. Morris more accurately calls it a “farce”, though I would use the term “dark comedy”. As I watched this movie, I was reminded of the classic British comedy, The Ladykillers, although the latter is a much funnier film.

Omar (Riz Ahmed), Barry (Nigel Lindsay), Waj (Kayvan Novak), Faisal (Adeel Akhtar) and Hassan (Arsher Ali) are Islamist terrorists in Sheffield, in the North of England. We’re never told why they became terrorists. The film mostly revolves around their plot to attack a marathon in London. The comedy arises from the stupidity of these characters. Although the film never becomes The Three Stooges Meet Osama Bin Laden, it comes perilously close at times. However, the terrorists are not the only ones who are dense. Everyone they meet is oblivious to the obvious signs that they are planning an attack. And the police are even more stupid than the terrorists are. Interestingly, the only characters in this film who don’t come across as completely clueless are some jihadists that Omar and Waj meet in Pakistan.

As in The Ladykillers, the main characters get themselves killed off, one by one, during the course of the film. What makes the ineptitude of the protagonists in The Laydkillers funny, however, is precisely the fact that we know that they are not stupid. Watching the characters in Four Lions getting killed is a bit like watching stray animals wandering across a freeway. Also, I found their continual bickering a bit wearing at times.

Four Lions does have some funny moments in it. However, Tamara Drewe remains, far and away, the funniest comedy to come out of 2010.

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