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Four Lions

Four Lions

Issue 70 July 2010

Review by Ali Khoei

‘Four Lions’ is a humorous and well researched film following four incompetent would-be British suicide bombers that plan to target the London marathon. Whilst many would initially recoil at the thought of satirising such a serious topic, it excels in that it centralises the humour around the feebleness of mind and inadequacies of the characters, rather than being insensitive to the actual shattering consequences of terrorism.

The film begins with a scene whereby Waj, played by Kayvan Novak from the Fonejacker, is filming his martyrdom video. After being mocked for holding a small gun, he rebukes, “Not too small brother; big hands.” This sets the scene for the rest of the film, indulging in a whole series of scenes and one-liners that set out to provoke laughter and ridicule, and not offence.

The characters include Omar, the leader of the group, who wants to do something about the injustices and suffering of Muslims around the world and uses bizarre similes (involving Simba’s Jihad) to justify his cause to his young son, making for slightly uncomfortable viewing.

Barry, a foul-mouthed, fanatical white English convert instils a sense of paranoia into the group that they are under constant surveillance. He articulately tries to convince the group that blowing up a mosque and blaming it on the “kuffar” will help to polarise the moderates and bring them on their side. He meets Hassan after he heckled a public event with his rhyming Jihadi rap.

Waj, very much the star idiot of the group, is vulnerable and seems ignorant of the real consequences of his actions. To his delight, Omar calls him during the suicide mission, with the gleaming Waj exclaiming, “Omar bro, are you in heaven?”

Faisal, the bomb-making expert, prefers to train crows to fly into buildings with bombs attached. Once the paranoid Barry tells him they are being watched, he consequently runs and accidentally falls over, blowing up himself and a flock of sheep in the process. The aggrieved Omar, frustrated by the sheer stupidity of the group, sarcastically questions, “So did he blow up kuffar sheep then?”

The film does not display Islamophobic or inflammatory undertones but rather satirises a delusional group, portrayed as being separated in ideology from their moderate Muslim community.

At the conclusion the film does display, to chilling effect, the consequences of such abhorrent actions once the bombs are set off and innocent people are killed. We watch the process leading up to it through CCTV, much in the same way as we viewed the harrowing faces of those involved in 7/7.

The characters are portrayed as not being inherently evil themselves, but instead drawn and misled into a dangerous outcast ideology with a twisted logic, inviting a surprising sense of pity from the audience towards the characters at the end of the film.

Barry, played by Nigel Lindsay, told me that he was delighted with the overwhelming words of encouragement he had received from the Muslim community, and after watching the film, I couldn’t say I was surprised.

 

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