Film Review: Four Lions (Dir. Chris Morris, Film4 Productions, 2010)

Posted: May 20, 2010 by Ferg in Ferg's Blue Air, Film Reviews
Tags: , , , , , ,

I intended to watch this satirical take on suicide bomb planning with an analytical eye, what with my postgrad degree in security and terrorism. After not even 5 minutes, I was howling with laughter so hard that all good and honest intentions flew out the window like a rocket from its launcher.

The premise is this. It tells the story of wannabe jihadists Omar, Waj, Fessal, Barry and Hassan and their pledge to commit terrorism against the West. There has been a reluctance to even make documentaries about such a thing, so for three writers to make a comedy out of it was not only brave, but might have bordered on stupid.

That’s until you look at the writers. Sam Bain and Jesse Armstrong, who wrote hit UK sitcom Peep Show, obviously bored because Mitchell and Webb are doing their own thing for a bit, teamed up with The Day Today and Brass Eye writer Chris Morris, notorious for his satirical and ridiculous take on the news.

Three brave writers. One controversial subject. The result though, if you’ll pardon the phrasing, is perfectly executed. It combines Peep Show’s build up of awkward, uncomfortable situations and Morris’s gift for comedy – the situations don’t leave the audience squeamish, like Peep Show does, but delighting in the lines delivered. From Omar’s rationalisation of jihad as ‘like having the fast track pass at Alton Towers’ to simpleton Waj to Barry’s determination to bomb a mosque to unite the ummah (worldwide Islamic community) against the kufr (non-believers). The scenes at the training camp in Pakistan are side-splitting, as are the hair-brained ideas the group come up with.

This isn’t to say the film isn’t shocking, and doesn’t deal with big issues. It openly and honestly challenges the distortion of Islam by extremists, and highlights the contradictory nature of some of the propaganda used to make jihad seem justified. What I found most profound is that these five men are idiots: yet they still manage to construct bombs. This is the challenge security forces face: even an idiot can make a bomb, and carry out a plan.

In spite of the film’s serious nature, its hard hitting theme and how shocking it can be at times, this is still the funniest British film ever. You Monty Python purists can shove it, Shaun of the Dead doesn’t even come close, even classic American comedies like Airplane! can’t contend with the situations, characters and script in this film. You forget while watching that shocking things are bound to happen, which makes them even more poignant when they do happen.

This is a must-see film. I’ve only ever said that about two films in my life before: Donnie Darko (a cult classic) and Kiss Kiss Bang Band (a cult classic). This film is more deserving of ‘cult classic’ status, unfortunately Americans won’t get it so that might be the best it can do.

5/5. A must see.

  1. I just read your review, and I was intending to leave an intelligent reply. But after reading it, I don’t want to.

    It was a shit review, you can’t write, and I do not understand why you feel the need to mention your degree.

    In fact, I believe that you are a terrorist. Why else would you do a degree on the subject other than to figure out a way around the UK’s defence policies?

    I find it hard to believe you are a true british citizen, to be honest, you sound like a disgruntled paddy looking for revenge Ferg.

    Also, you slagged off monty python, so regardless of everything else I have written, that one fact proves you are a complete and utter fuckwit.

    • Ferg says:

      Firstly, I’m glad you absolve yourself of an intelligent reply. I doubt it’s due to not wanting to, in all honesty, as your frankly evolution-reversing comment about my being a terrorist due to my cynicism and Irish background is evidence enough that you don’t know what you’re on about. I can only guess, by the way, you’ve assumed I’m Irish because of my SCOTTISH name? Don’t take any risks ‘Gaz’, make sure you let MI5 know that Graham Norton’s a terrorist too, he’s Irish and he’s been cynical about England’s footballers. Wouldn’t want any terrorists slipping through the net now, would we? Might want to ring them about James Nesbitt too, don’t trust him just because he was in yellow pages adverts.

      While I may not be able to write, you obviously missed the finer points of being able to read. A comparison is where you take two things, in this case film, and use one to showcase the merits of the other. I didn’t ‘slag off’ Monty Python. I strongly suggested it’s inferior to this film. If that boggles your magic 8 ball of a mind, don’t worry, I’m sure if you keep shaking it angrily at whatever I’ve written you might come out with something that actually fits what was written. Like ‘No way.’ In which case, congratulations, you’re now as smart as Wayne and Garth.

      Finally, when have I ever claimed to be British through this blog? Have any of us? Adam was born in Brazil – does this mean we should slate his opinion because it’s not British? I do sense a hint of bigotry, but I’d expect nothing less from a post which links presumed Irish nationality with terrorism.

      Yours truly,

      The Disgruntled Paddy.

      • Adam says:

        Lovely ‘measured’ response there Ferg….. you disgruntled Irish F**kw*t

        ps I wouldn’t trust Brazilians either, much like the Met don’t.

  2. How long did it take to come up with the “magic 8 ball analogy”? I don’t know you, but going by your lack of wit I get the impression you were sat in front of the warm glow of your led monitor, eyes glazed with anger, trying to think of a comeback to the reply to your oh-so-important blog.

    You may wonder why my reply has come from nowhere, the fact is I have been reading your blog for a while, and enjoyed it until about a month ago when the lovely scottish Ferg started posting frequent self-indulgent crap. It seems that he wants nothing more than to be seen as some edgy Charlie Brooker wannabe when in fact he seems to be an overly educated wanker that can’t help but mention his numerous degrees, ironically the kind of middle class cunt that Charlie revels in slating on a regular basis.

  3. Adam says:


    I couldn’t help but read your point about Charlie ‘Charlton’ Brooker and feel the need to point out that Mr Brooker is himself middle class, of a sort.


  4. Ferg says:

    I wasn’t wondering anything to be honest Gaz, I don’t spend all day fretting about some flamer on a blog, or coming up with insults. That shit comes naturally.

    I also love that you’d think of comparing me to a writer who’s outspoken and uses outlandish metaphors. 10 years ago the comparison would have been Maddox, before that Jeremy Clarkson, etc. Shame I can’t just write my own stuff, isn’t it, for fun, and not to impress?

    See, thing is, this all seems a bit personal to me. Initially, I couldn’t write, then it descended into a personal attack based on a film review and an unusual name. Overly educated? Nah, just educated. Bitter? About what? Terrorist? That’s just stupid.

    But middle class? When did background REALLY become an insult? Even Brooker and his best mate Mitchell (Cambridge graduate, by the way) would take exception background being used as an insult, and I’m sure the reverse is true – what if I suggested the working class couldn’t understand a lightswitch?

    Tell you what, go find Brooker and ask him what he thinks. I’ll be there watching as traffic lights confuse you, until you end up so confused you panic and run out in front of a bus, turning yourself into a McAwesome pancake.

    I don’t think we’ll cry ourselves to sleep losing a reader like you 🙂 I take it you won’t be watching Four Lions then?

  5. Cheese says:

    I hope you get more comments like these so you can start posting some Maddox style responses to hate mail.

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