Four Lions Hilarious Satire of Extremism Streaming Hidden Gem
Four Lions is a dark satire about religious extremism is Britain. The characters are all Muslim, and they plan to commit atrocities “for” Islam, but this is all more incidental than anything else. Director/Co-writer Chris Morris is less concerned with religion as a concept, as he is in the selfishness and stupidity of those who are willing abuse it in order to kill people.
We follow a radicalized, but otherwise mild-mannered family man named Omar (Riz Ahmed) and his dim-witted best friend Faisal (Adeel Akhtar) as they eagerly conspire to terrorize London. They are part of a struggling terrorist cell along with the childishly naive Hassan (Arsher Ali) and the bully/de facto leader Barry (Nigel Lindsay). Omar and Faisal are sent to the Middle East to legitimize their cell by training with insurgents in the field, but after a disastrous case of overconfidence involving a rocket, the two return home in disgrace. Determined to save face, Omar tells his other comrades that, yes, they were given the go-ahead to plan an attack, and should start right away. The group of Londoners then uses everything at its disposal, including “trained” ravens, obnoxious mascot costumes, and each other’s foolishness to send their clear, devastating message… so should they bomb a drug store or a mosque?
These guys are all fools, and we are never lead to believe anything else. However, there is a strange dignity that Morris gives through the framing of his characters, particularly Omar. The man is trying to blow up a bunch of innocent people, but we still get little moments of his family life, like playfully teasing his wife or attempting to frame his failures in the most heroic light possible as a bedtime story for his kid. He just wants to be worth something.
Four Lions is critical of a particular interpretation of Islam, never the religion itself. By focusing the humor directly onto Omar and his men (even the legitimate terrorists look like Navy Seals compared to them), Morris is able to provide an effective satire of an all-too-relevant issue while never being too cruel when choosing the butt of his jokes. Well worth the 97min runtime.
Directed by: Chris Morris
Starring: Riz Ahmed, Adeel Akhtar, Arsher Ali, Nigel Lindsay, Kayvan Novak
Streaming on: Prime, FuboTV, Roku Channel, Hoopla, Vudu, Tubi, Kanopy, Crackle, Pluto TV, Plex
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