8 May 2010

Four Lions.

I'll try not to, but this could contain bits that might spoil it for you.
Having gone to the cinny on what seemed like every other week at the back end of 2009, there's been a real lack of interest in the offerings of early twenty ten, that's now starting to pick up a little and the new Chris Morris film Four Lions was one I was looking forward to giving a whirl.
I assume everyone knows who Chris Morris is, but if you don't, he's the king of satire and funnily enough he's been branded the comedy terrorist in times gone by, the man behind the much lauded and superb The Day Today the first glimpse of Alan Partridge et al, The IT Crowd, Nathan Barley and of course Brass Eye - one of, if not the best British comedy ever.
With his controversial, yet impeccably clever brand of wit, Morris has tackled and made us piss our pants at an array of delicate subject matter from Pornography to Paedophilia, to inventing the mock drug 'cake' which fooled a host of celebrities and politicians alike. So it was no real surprise to see the first genuine film tackling what is clearly a touchy and pretty current subject matter, that of domestic suicide bombers, that Chris Morris was directing.
With the exception of the oddly titled short which starred Paddy Considine My Wrongs #8245–8249 & 117, this is Morris' first feature film, his directorial debut.Combined with the writing talents of Channel Four's Peep Show, Four Lions tells the tale of four disillusioned and radicalised young men who set out to become suicide bombers. Based I think, in Sheffield in the North of England, the group are made up of the natural leader, the kind of sensible one Omar (Riz Ahmed) who you may have seen in Shifty (2008). The white muslim convert who actually has dreams of bombing a mosque, Barry (Nigel Lindsay) small screen and big stage actor, the bumbling fool Waj (Kayvan Novak) who you might have seen in Fonejacker/Facejacker, and the one with ideas above his station, Fessal (Adeel Akhtar) plus latecomer Hassan (Arsher Ali).
Together they record and fuck up numerous martyr videos, train a crow as a flying bomb, two of them visit a training camp in Pakistan with catastrophic consequences and generally mess every aspect of their ill fated mission up as they catch themselves up in their own farcical Holy War, culminating in a plan of blowing themselves up during the London Marathon. Watching this, it was laugh out loud funny, I don't think I've ever witnessed such genuine belly laughs amongst the crowd at the pictures as I did this evening.
This film is, in essence a pisstake, not a pisstake at radical Muslims, race or religion more at the sheer absurdity of extreme fanaticism, a fanaticism it's hard to fathom, killing oneself in the name of God. Morris had spent many years researching this subject and it's alleged this occurred before the tragic July 2005 London bombings, bringing very close to home something we'd only ever seen on the News being transmitted to us from the other side of the globe. Whilst poking fun at the nature of brainwashed extremities, this film also does a hell of a lot to making the viewer take note too, to understand and even explain the lunacy of it all. With a sterling performance from the lead Riz Ahmed as Omar, someone who openly discusses his plans with his wife and child, who support it too, is pretty thought provoking in itself, Waj is persuaded to do what he's doing as their personal Jihad is likened to a trip to Alton Towers, and Barry the extreme white muslim thinks bombing a mosque is the cleverest way to make a point. None of them really know what they are doing, there's no point in the film which ever suggests why they are so radicalised, they just are. These are genuine guys, with northern accents, born in England.
The fact this film genuinely leaves you thinking is in itself is a pretty clever stroke of work. The fact this is hilarious more or less thoughout simply adds to that. That laugh out loud comedy i mentioned later turned to sombre silence at it's climax. Going into this I did wonder if it was going to be something poking fun at it's subject, something which could cause a real stink, and offend as it ammuses in equal measures. Whilst I'm sure there's going to be a pathetic predictable response by the more right wing press and the ignorant whos heads it will simply fly over, let's not forget Morris is a clever guy, he's more than done his homework on this one, it's true to life, and scarily so, this film is getting great reviews and could turn out to be pretty important in years to come, which for what is essentially a farce 'Dad's Army' does suicide bombers comedy is a pretty good achievement.

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