Four Lions Review
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Comedies tend to venture into all kinds of strange territories. Movies encourage us to laugh at things that we normally wouldn’t discuss in polite company: politics, religion, sex, and even violence. But, for years, it seemed as though just one topic was left untouched: terrorism. Then a little British indie called Four Lions came along and blew that last remaining taboo to bits.

Four Lions follows a band of bumbling British Muslim extremists on a mission to become jihadists. While Barry (Nigel Lindsay) takes an outspoken approach—preaching on college campuses and constantly trying to blow stuff up—Omar (Riz Ahmed) prefers a quieter approach. He packs his bags and takes time off from his job as a mall security guard to attend a training camp in Pakistan with his dim-witted friend, Waj (Kayvan Novak). But when their training goes horribly wrong, they have to come back home to try to begin their own holy war.

Through his own twisted logic, Barry is convinced that bombing a mosque is the way to go. But Omar believes that he’s being called to lead his friends to something even greater.

Although terrorism is a topic that’s generally handled about as delicately as, say, a live bomb, director Chris Morris and company take the usual taboo and place it instead at the center of an unruly game of kickball. And the result is quite possibly the most bizarre and unexpected little movie of the year.

Four Lions is an unconventional pitch-black comedy about a bunch of extremist nitwits who seem to be acting strictly on their own misguided stereotypes about how jihadists are supposed to behave. They scorn their fellow Muslims and avoid their local mosque while they stockpile bomb-making materials and rehearse their all-important terrorist videos. Of the five main players, only straight-laced family man Omar seems to have any sense whatsoever—but even he can never seem to get it right.

Not only is Four Lions absolutely, ridiculously funny, but it’s also a huge relief. For the last several years, terrorism has been one of those topics that we tend to avoid at all costs. There’s simply nothing funny about it. In fact, it’s so scary—and so serious—that we’re almost afraid to talk about it at all. After all, if you even think about joking about it anywhere near an airplane, it’ll get you into some serious trouble—and, anywhere else, it’s simply seen as tasteless. For that reason, the irreverent humor in Four Lions might feel seriously uncomfortable at first. But once you sit back and let yourself laugh at the insanity of it all, it’s almost therapeutic. For just a few minutes, it’s refreshing to let go of all of our fears and anxiety about the threat of terrorism and have a good laugh.

My only real complaint, then, is that I just couldn’t understand enough of it—because the accents are thick enough that captions would be helpful. Still, while you might not understand everything the characters say, the things you will understand are guaranteed to make you laugh until you nearly explode.

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