Four Lions -- Film Review
Friday, Nov. 5 (Film 4)
Reviewed at Sundance Film Festival
Riz Ahmed, Arsher Ali, Nigel Lindsay, Kayvan Novak, Adeeel Akhtar Benedict Cumberbatch, Julia Davis, Preeya Kalidas, Chris Wilson, Darren Boyd
"Four Lions" will roar with laughter on the select-site circuit. A "Spinal Tap"-style sendup of British jihadists, filmmaker Chris Morris has hilariously lampooned young men who confuse their ideology and religion with video games and set out to blast themselves into martyrdom.
Admittedly, jihadists are not what most people would think of as being funny, but Morris rips the ideological masks off and reveals human people beneath -- in this case, numbskulls.
In this balmy satire, the "four lions" are a less-than-fearsome foursome who might be categorized as "The Gang That Couldn't Bomb Straight." They are straight out of the Three Stooges, embarking on their grand quest of blowing up a marathon or, more crazy, blowing up a mosque "to radicalize the moderates."
Four Lions is a hilarious farce and a brilliant takedown of the imbecility of fanaticism. Morris' dialogue is dagger sharp and laced with droll comedy. When their ramshackle car breaks down, the leader of the gang of four declares it's because the spark plugs were made by Jews, which is part of their plot to control global traffic.
The major players are superb, keeping straight faces throughout and detonating the comedy. Plaudits to Riz Ahmed, Arsher Ali, Nigel Lindsay, Kayvan Novak and Adeel Akhtar as the incompetent knuckleheads who blast themselves into ignominy.
Packed with absurdity and accelerated by crisp pacing, Four Lions is technically astute; in particular, Charlotte Walter's loopy costume design is dead-on funny.
Venue: Sundance Film Festival
Section: Word Cinema Dramatic Competition
Sales: Wild Bunch
Production: Film 4
Cast: Riz Ahmed, Arsher Ali, Nigel Lindsay, Kayvan Novak, Adeeel Akhtar Benedict Cumberbatch, Julia Davis, Preeya Kalidas, Chris Wilson, Darren Boyd
Director: Christopher Morris
Screenwriters: Jesse Armstrong, Sam Bain, Christopher Morris, Simon Blackwell
Producers: Mark Herbert, Derrin Schlesinger
Executive producers: Angus Aynsley, Carole Baraton, Peter Carlton, Will Clarke, Mark Findlay, Caroline Leddy, Alex Marshall
Director of photography: Lol Crawley
Production designer: Dick Lunn
Editor: Billy Sneddon
Costume designer: Charlotte Walter
No Rating, 94 minutes