Monday, July 19, 2010

Four Lions

Going to a comedy about four incompetent British Muslim would-be terrorists seemed an attractive proposition to me and Wellingtonians obviously agreed, since the Sunday night showing was totally full. Apart from wanting to be amused, there was also the curiosity about how the subject matter would be handled and who would find it offensive.

A reviewer quoted in the film festival programme said Four Lions was In the Loop meets Paradise Now and having seen both of those movies I'd agree - but that comparison doesn't give you the full picture. Throw in Mr Bean (for the painful cringe-making type of humour) and Inspector Clouseau (for the slapstick and added stupidity) and you'll have a better idea.

The Four Lions want to stage a suicide bombing. The film documents their arguments about what to bomb (Barry the white muslim convert wants to bomb the local mosque and one of the others wants to bomb the internet), their attempts to video their explanation of their actions, two of them going to a terrorist training camp in Pakistan, their agreement on the London Marathon as their target, and their explosive making efforts.

There's a lot to make you laugh in Four Lions and as much to make you groan - the silly stuff like swallowing the car keys so the others are forced to hotwire the car to get to the airport, running through London in an Ostrich suit, strapping explosives to a crow, and the philosophical stuff like why your concept of paradise is so strong that you'd want to give up a beautiful wife and a charming son to get there early and why you'd think that women are second class citizen. And then there's the inescapable fact that the dynamics of four not-very-bright men trying to organise anything is just bound to be funny.

One reviewer suggested that the point of the film was that most terrorists were incompetent so we shouldn't we worried about them and I disagree entirely. The purposes of the film that occurred to me are that there's often humour to be derived from serious subjects, that even stupid terrorists are dangerous - and not only to themselves, and that terrorists are just ordinary people with unusually strong convictions.

Four Lions is a comedy that will take you a bit outside your comfort zone, so cast political correctness aside and go and watch it.

Anne's rating 4/5
Ian's rating 4/5

1 comment:

  1. What I took to be the film's message is simply that terrorists are, after all, human. They are not unstoppable killing machines or cartoon supervillains with unbendable will. It sounds childishly simple idea when you write it down and look at it like that, but the way people sometimes talk about terrorism it seems like it really does get forgotten sometimes. It does not mean that they are not capable of real damage, though, far from it.