Sunday, 19 December 2010

Four Lions

Last night I finally watched Four Lions, Chris Morris' comedy about bungling and inept suicide bombers.

Morris made his name in edgy satire and has always been keen to "push the envelope". After establishing himself in the Radio 4 comedy "On The Hour" and the TV version "The Day Today", he created "Brass Eye" for Channel 4. This satirised the media's - and more generally, society's - approach to major issues such as drugs, science and crime. In the process it fooled celebrities and politicians into unwise public pronouncements creating controversy and howls of protest from those involved.

The zenith of the show was reached with a special in 2001 when, at the third time of asking, an episode tackling paedophilia was aired. Satirising the hysteria the media is capable of whipping up, it whipped up a storm of hysteria of it's own; rather proving the point it was making.

To my mind, Four Lions was less controversial - and less satirical. Although the subject matter isn't to everyone's cup of tea and is, of course, extremely sensitive the film is more of a situation comedy. A group of Muslims become radicalised and set about Jihad but entirely lack the resources, wherewithal and intelligence with which to mount an effective attack. After a disastrous trip to a training camp in Pakistan and the accidental martyrdom of one of the cell, the remaining four decide to target the London Marathon. In fancy dress. 

There are, still, some great satirical flourishes, one of my favourites being a police marksman turning to a colleague and saying "He must have been the target, I shot him" but this is more of an old school comedy and much less controversial than it at first sounds. If you've not seen it, I'd thoroughly recommend it. Here's a clip:

Read more about the film on Wikipedia and watch Mark Kermode's review here. Kermone's review also brings out the human element of the film.




Raybeard said...

Andrew, I'm risking your writing me off as just a contrary person as I seem to disagree on so much of what you like, just for the sake of it. But it honestly isn't like that. I really did want to like this film but deep down I felt it lacked the hilarious, sardonic bite which I would have expected from Chris Morris as shown in both 'The Day Today' and 'Brass Eye', either of which I'd love to see another series.
However, every review of this film which I read is closer to your generally positive opinion than to mine, including Mark K's. Maybe I went expecting too much despite there being indeed a few (too few?) brilliant flashes of dialogue. In essence I got the feeling that a controversial subject was being tip-toed around in case it caused TOO deep offence - which I can fully understand when we know only too well the possible consequences of upsetting one particular section above all others. (I think you may at least go a little way towards agreeing?) Anyway, I certainly wouldn't want to talk anyone out of seeing the film. It seems it might be 'just me' - again.

oneexwidow said...

Each to their own, Mr Raybeard.

And there's nothing wrong with a bit of contrariness now and again!