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Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

FILM DETAILS
Certificate
15
Cast
Riz Ahmed
Kayvan Novak
Nigel Lindsay
Adeel Akhtar
Arsher Ali
Preeya Kalidas.
Directors
Chris Morris.
Screenwriters
Chris Morris.
Running Time
94 minutes

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Four Lions
Terrorist cells get the Chris Morris treatment


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Plot
Omar (Ahmed), a radicalised British Muslim, has formed a terrorist cell with his dim-witted brother Waj (Novak), angry white convert Barry (Lindsay) and apprehensive bomb-maker Fessal (Akhtar). While Omar and Waj are in Pakistan at a Mujahideen training camp, Barry recruits would-be rapper Hassan (Ali) to the group. Returning to Britain, Omar reveals his plans for a suicide bomb attack against an unexpected Western target.


Review
Four Lions
Browse more images »
Remember the terrorist who caught fire while ineffectually attacking Glasgow airport and was beaten up by a passing Scotsman? Would he still have been hilarious if he’d killed a few dozen people? Chris Morris’ funny drama — like much of his TV work, a little too nerve-wracking to be safely labelled a comedy — features a jihad that runs as smoothly as Captain Mainwaring’s defence of Walmington-on-Sea. These terrorists are fumbling, squabbling, inept and against-all-the-odds sympathetic — but Morris always remembers the danger they present to themselves and any civilians who wander into their blast range.

Four Lions — which has five main characters, suggesting that someone won’t make it to the jihad in time — doesn’t try to answer the question most often raised about the 7/7 plotters: why would young men who seem to have benefited from living in a multicultural Western nation want to kill themselves and any number of random strangers for some mutant notion of Islam? The outstandingly appalling convert Barry (Nigel Lindsay), furious when comrades remind him of his actual race by speaking Urdu, decrees that buying a Jaffa orange is tantamount to giving nukes to Israel — but his big idea is to radicalise moderates by blowing up a mosque, though he keeps forgetting the part about blaming the atrocity on the enemy. The lions make offhand remarks about “Jews and slags and that” but don’t seem especially oppressed or aggrieved by the sufferings of the Faithful around the world. In classic sit-com style, this group is together for personal reasons, more interested in private jokes and grudges that go back to the school playground than any great campaign against a Western Satan.

The heart of the film — which, in a running dialectic, keeps getting mixed up with the brain — is the bond between Omar (Riz Ahmed), who has a happy home life with a wife (Preeya Kalidas) and an adoring son, and his heroically stupid, yet tragically lovable brother Waj (Kayvan Novak), who he’s brainwashed into thinking martyrdom will be like the “Rubber Dinghy Rapids” ride at Alton Towers without the queues. Ahmed and Novak — like many British Asian actors, veterans of more than their share of terror-themed dramas — deliver comic gold in rambling, endearing, black-edged fraternal patter, through a perfectly timed foul-up at Mujahideen training to an emotional home stretch as Omar starts to feel guilty about what he has talked his brother into. It does jokes about the equally inept but better-resourced security forces (an innocent fun-runner is shot dead because a sniper can’t distinguish between a Wookiee and The Honey Monster) but, like the similarly pretend-rambling of In The Loop, keeps returning to comedy that comes from the characters rather than the satirical barbs.


Extras

Four Lions Four Lions
Released: 30 August 2010
A ten-minute featurette made from research tapes, spotlighting the mindset of some none-too-bright Nelson local youths; a conversation with Mo Ali recounting his experiences in the prison system; 15 minutes of behind the scenes B roll and 25 minutes of deleted scenes.


Verdict
Guaranteed to offend a lot of folks across the political and belief spectrum, but consistently funny and horribly to the point. A sit-com spin-off is probably not on the cards, though.


Reviewed by Kim Newman

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Four Lions
Empire Star Rating

RE: Four Lions

I finally watched this the other week after picking it up cheap in the sales.  Meant to watch it sooner but alas, never got round to it!'m not quite sure precisely what I made of it really.  It's certainly gripping and, in agreement with what I've read, works well as story of how a bunch of blokes are capable of fucking up any plan they embark on.  It kept me wondering how it would all end right to the last minute. The one thing I'm not so sure of is whether it was really as... More

Posted by Super Hans at 19:55, 23 January 2012 | Report This Post


The line between comedy and tragedy...

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 terro... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by neopol at 11:55, 02 March 2011 | Report This Post


Dreadful

I thought it was really unfunny. I admire what they were trying to do but did not enjoy it at all or laugh once. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by emmagd at 11:19, 18 January 2011 | Report This Post


Insensitively Sensitive

This thoroughly amusing story of a group of hapless, London-based muslim extremists is most certainly not for everyone. Snobby idiots and narrow minded pricks, mostly. But, despite the indelicate handling of the tightrope subject, the film is always amusing, and the characters always feel like very real human beings, which is frightening in its' own right. One of the best black comedies for a real long time ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by blaud at 03:09, 17 January 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Hits most of it's targets

I watched this last week, and I have to say, I haven't laughed so much at a film in ages. That's not to say the film is hilarious all the way through, far from it. For the first 3/4 of the film, it is reasonably funny, with the occasional touch of comic genius, but the last quarter of it really is incredibly funny. It's uncomfortable to watch, but always engaging. Some of it doesn't quite work. They're a little stupid, and Barry is overly psychotic, but on the whole it's an enjoyab... More

Posted by UTB at 14:30, 09 September 2010 | Report This Post


Hits most of it's targets

When it was first announced that provocative comedian Chris Morris was planning on directing a film about a group of jihadist suicide bombers my reaction, as a long term fan of Morris' work, was "that will be brilliant...if it ever gets made." Over the years Morris has taken acerbic and absurdist pot-shots at politicians, celebrities and the press and all the while gleefully trampled his comedy boots over any topic that could be even remotely labelled 'taboo'. So when I sat d... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by ronnie barko at 23:37, 08 September 2010 | Report This Post


This film does contain two, maybe three quite hilarious scenes, but it certainly doesn't maintain that comedy throughout. The beginning is slow and uninspired not helped by the two main leads being the most unlikeable of characters. Both Ahmed and Lindsey are two good British actors, but both are uncomfotably irritating here and the other three members of the suicide gang are dim- simpletons played for laughs. There are moments of satire when the coppers are trying to distinguish betwee... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by gzus at 21:37, 02 September 2010 | Report This Post


I guess i saw a different film to the four star reviewers on here then because it wasn't that funny and didn't have any kind of message to say. It was too cowardly to side with the 'terrorists' and make a statement about capitalism etc etc or to side against them and show that terrorism isn't the answer. It was keystone Cops for most of the running time with a sudden and jolting 'tender' moment in the hospital. Poorly written, it was a group of scenes strung together with characters you just co... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by twistedmango at 11:51, 22 June 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Lion Hearted

Dodgy subject matter, hilarious film. I loved Today]BrassEyei]Four Lions up to Chris Morris' reputation - a funny, controversial comedian and now a fantastic director. And as comedies go, this is most likely my favourite comedy of 2010 - let's see if anything else can top it... ] ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by robwillphill at 21:09, 02 June 2010 | Report This Post


Lion Hearted

As brave, touching and funny a film as will be released this year. And yet, as consistently funny as 'Four Lions' it is, it is also an understandably uncomfortable watch - these characters are never one-dimensional and the 'Daily Mail' brigade who might deem the film (unseen) offensive miss the fact that at it's heart this is a very human drama. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by vipey at 22:04, 01 June 2010 | Report This Post


being a british asian myself, i found this film absolutley hilarious! The comedy timing of all the actors was executed to perfection which is refreshing. went in with an open mind and came out quoting "rubber dinghy rapids" all the way home! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by nukky at 04:34, 30 May 2010 | Report This Post


Brave and Brilliant

But very complex... :-) ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by stevos at 21:48, 26 May 2010 | Report This Post


RE: You've Got To Laugh

Good to see it doing so well at the UK box office: www.imdb.com/boxoffice/?region=uk would have predicted a more modest public reception, much like how In The Loop was greeted last year. gn] ... More

Posted by Fit Kisto at 13:21, 25 May 2010 | Report This Post


RE: You've Got To Laugh

"Fucking mini Babybels..." A great film, funny and poignant, especially the final scenes. Still, it does a great job of showing incompetence on both sides ("Is a Wookie a bear?!") and the confusion behind the entire Jihadist motives. 4/5 ... More

Posted by Timon at 07:31, 24 May 2010 | Report This Post


brilliant - as funny as in the loop

Really great film - would never have thought that it would work this well. Great dialogue is supplied by the In The Loop writers once again, but the acting is probably the strongest element on show here. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by tysmuse at 02:31, 23 May 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Four Lions

There is a screening Four Lions followed by a satellite Q&A with director Chris Morris and cast members. I won tickets for them on twitter but I can't go and I don't want them to go to waste. Just tell me if you want them, you can collect them at the box office. These are the cinemas where it is being broadcast: Gate Picturehouse - London Greenwich Picturehouse - London Ritzy Picturehouse - Brixton, London Belmont Picturehouse - Aberdeen The Little Theatre Cinema - Bath Duk... More

Posted by paul_ie86 at 16:08, 21 May 2010 | Report This Post


RE: You've Got To Laugh

It was very funny except the whole cinema wasnt laughing when I saw it but thats because I and a fat lady munching popcorn were the only ones there. I was late seeing this one because I initially took offence and wasnt going to bother with Four Lions but I couldnt resist. Im glad I watched a digital screening and I laughed lots especially at surveilance faces. So Im eating my words from previouse post, Four Lions is very good. ... More

Posted by Bighousewill at 17:38, 20 May 2010 | Report This Post


RE: You've Got To Laugh

L: Kieran94 What's this about nervous laughter? Everyone in my Glasgow showing was laughing to the point of tears, especially myself, and it was fully packed as well. Not sure what this says about Glaswegians though. here, although with a cinema full of south east Englanders as opposed to Glaswegians. Nervous?  I'm certain a few people actually pissed themselves.  And I wasn't far off, either  ... More

Posted by DaveTheStampede at 17:27, 20 May 2010 | Report This Post


RE: You've Got To Laugh

What's this about nervous laughter? Everyone in my Glasgow showing was laughing to the point of tears, especially myself, and it was fully packed as well. Not sure what this says about Glaswegians though. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Kieran94 at 09:04, 20 May 2010 | Report This Post


You've Got To Laugh

I could write a whole essay on this film but I wont im lazy. I put aside my opinions on the subject matter not being particularly ammusing to me because I feel very strongly about terrorsim and the radicalisition of young not particularly bright vunerable people. I also have a friend who served on the front line in Afghanistan. That said there is a message in this film and it is told using the medium of comedy about people. You have to laugh. Im glad I overcame the offence I took to this film be... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Bighousewill at 15:52, 19 May 2010 | Report This Post


Four Lions: Back To Basics.

This is a classic British film, based on British humour. If you are any other nationality the chances are you won't get it. I was shocked to see how empty the cinema was but not surprised to hear the nervous laughter. I just got the feeling that no one wanted to laugh first in case they were seen as racist, I think that is awful that you can't laugh proudly in a comedy film. This is no different from Borat or Bruno except it is just lower budget. It was disappointed to see that most of the funn... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by LUCASLITTLEWOOD at 13:32, 19 May 2010 | Report This Post


RE: If you only see one comedy about terrorism this year......

L: zombie mastermind I already loved Chris Morris' output, so this came across as a little bit tame after "Brass Eye" and the unsettling "Jam". That said, when I wasn't lolling, I was giggling or chuckling inwardly. The debate about taste or whatever is oh so predictable, just enjoy it for what it is: "The funniest bomb-com I have seen in ages!" Surely a knighthood is imminent. ve to give kudos for "bomb-com" ... More

Posted by BOHEMIANBOB at 00:48, 19 May 2010 | Report This Post


Fourking Hilarious........

Totally stupid overall, but VERY funny indeed. I can't remember the last time I laughed so much at a Film, BUT I can easily see why some people would be totally offended by this Film.......... ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by n13roy at 22:53, 18 May 2010 | Report This Post


If you only see one comedy about terrorism this year......

I already loved Chris Morris' output, so this came across as a little bit tame after "Brass Eye" and the unsettling "Jam". That said, when I wasn't lolling, I was giggling or chuckling inwardly. The debate about taste or whatever is oh so predictable, just enjoy it for what it is: "The funniest bomb-com I have seen in ages!" Surely a knighthood is imminent. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by zombie mastermind at 19:39, 18 May 2010 | Report This Post


If you only see one comedy about terrorism this year......

I already loved Chris Morris' output, so this came across as a little bit tame after "Brass Eye" and the unsettling "Jam". That said, when I wasn't lolling, I was giggling or chuckling inwardly. The debate about taste or whatever is oh so predictable, just enjoy it for what it is: "The funniest bomb-com I have seen in ages!" Surely a knighthood is imminent. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by zombie mastermind at 19:39, 18 May 2010 | Report This Post


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