I can remember first hearing about this early in 2010, and was unsure as what to expect. On one hand this could have been a nasty hate film, mocking the wave of Muslim extremism which is taking a firm hold in this country, merely for the entertainment value, or this could be one of the important satires on the subject to date.
It was by far, without a shadow of doubt, the latter. Four Lions follows five amateur, lackluster Muslims from Sheffield who all believe that they are a primed terror cell on the frontline of the war against the infidels. Unfortunately for them, they are bunglers, whilst achieving the ability to create explosives, they have failed to control how and when it explodes!
The plot culminates with an attempt to attack the London Marathon but it is a long road, taking our protagonists to the terror camps of Pakistan, and the town halls of Sheffield. This film is written and directed so expertly, it is literally frightening.
Morris and his pitch perfect cast deliver a film which so perfectly walks the razor wire tightrope between comedy and tragedy that every laugh is tinged with sadness or pity and every dark moment, seemingly comedic.
Is this a comedy? Decidedly not, but is this funny, and intentionally so? Yes. It's almost as if the laughs are out of sheer relief, as moments which should shock are delivered or followed up by some of the most profoundly realistic and yet ridiculous conversions.
The Lion King explanation for the war against the west; The almost horrifically callous 'Honey Monster' exchange as a police sniper may well have just shot an innocent civilian will stick in your mind. Let alone more simple humour, such as the eating of the sim cards to prevent tracking, which resembled the Catholic method of taking of the bread at mass.
But this was also about grooming: Grooming the audience to sympathise with a terror cell plotting in our midst was genius, whist having to watch the various methods employed within the group itself, leading to some of the films most poignant and tragic moments.
The disenfranchised Muslim population of this country have been captured so well, though portrayed on one hand as been dimwitted 'wanna-be terrorists', but on the other as real people, miss led with some of the most ridiculous concepts designed to reduce their lives to that of mediocrity in order to convince them to take so many others. This is a sympathetic peace movie in a time of great confusion and conflict.
Until now, United 93 was the film which had most summed up the dark times in which we live, following 9/11, but this is at least on par with it and is a great addition to a long and significant catalogue of topical anti-establishment films, such as M.A.S.H. and Dr. Strangelove.
Not just highly recommended, but a MUST SEE!