Directed by Chris Norris and written by Norris, Jesse Armstrong, Sam Bain, and Simon Blackwell, Four Lions is a satirical film about four young Islamic men who become part of an Islamic terrorist group in Britain. During their attempts to become terrorists, the four men try to create chaos in Britain in hopes to become a huge threat. Starring Riz Ahmed, Kayvan Novak, Nigel Lindsay, Adeel Akhtar, Arsher Ali, Craig Parkinson, and Benedict Cumberbatch. Four Lions is a funny and captivating film from Chris Norris.
Omar (Riz Ahmed) is a security guard who wants to be part of Jihad terrorist group in Sheffield led by the White convert Barry (Nigel Lindsay) is also an ill-tempered local Islamic leader in Sheffield. Along with the dim-witted Waj (Kayvan Novak) and the willing Faisal (Adeel Akhtar), the four men try to figure out what to do as Omar gets a chance to go to Pakistan for Jihad training. With Waj joining him, the training doesn’t go well due to Waj’s incompetence and Omar accidentally firing a bazooka at a nearby terrorist camp. Upon their return home, Barry had already recruited a young man named Hassan (Arsher Ali) to the group as he suggests to blow up a Mosque so they can rile up angry Muslims to join their cause.
Omar isn’t sure about Barry’s plans as he reluctantly goes along with it until an idiotic neighbor (Julia Davis) dances with Hassan as she nearly compromises everything they do. With all of their tools needed to create explosives are nearly exposed, the five men decide to move everything where things go from bad to worse. Omar becomes more unsure as he tries to figure out what to do where he gets an idea to target the London Marathon. The men agree to go to London yet things become more complicated as it involves the police and a negotiator (Benedict Cumberbatch).
The film is essentially about four young men and a brash White Islamic convert all trying to create a terrorist plot in Britain in hopes that it would give rise to the Muslim cause against Western society. What happens to them is that a lot of things go wrong in their attempt as it involves a mix of men who really shouldn’t be terrorists as they’re either very stupid or just naïve to believe that they could make a difference. At the heart of the film is this young man who believes in the cause as he has a family and a nice job though he becomes more confused once things start to screw up even more.
The script succeeds in fleshing out characters and the situations they embark although there’s moments where a few scenes seem to meander at times due to the overflow of dialogue that is present. Yet, it’s the humor that makes the film very exciting as Chris Norris’ direction which is always very engaging with lots of wide shots of the Sheffield and London locations with Spain being the Pakistan location. The direction is very wild while mostly straightforward to emphasize what the men are doing as there’s intimate moments but also raucous moments. Particularly as it features moments where some parts of the film is shot on video cameras as if it’s a security camera or a night-vision camera where the police tries to uncover the plot. Overall, Norris creates a solid yet witty film about terrorism gone horribly wrong.
Cinematographer Lol Crawley does an excellent job with the film‘s photography from its colorful look for the Sheffield scenes to the grainy video camera work for the security and night-vision camera shots. Editor Billy Sneddon does a very good job with the editing as it’s mostly straightforward while having some wonderful rhythmic cuts for some of the funnier moments in the film. Production designer Dick Lunn, along with set decorator Duncan Wheeler and art director Julie Ann Horan, does some nice work on the set pieces such as the room where Barry creates his own video clips to express his plans to the world.
Costume designer Charlotte Walter does a fine job with the costumes as it‘s mostly casual with its mix of Muslim attire to complement the environment. Sound recordist Malcolm Hirst does a superb job with the sound to capture all of the chaos in the locations including its action scenes. Music supervisor Phil Canning does a brilliant job in creating a diverse soundtrack ranging from traditional Muslim music to modern Muslim music with its mix of hip-hop, classical, and rock to complement the modern world they live in.
The casting by Des Hamilton is wonderful as it features a great ensemble that includes Preeya Kalidas as Omar’s kindly wife, Julia Davis as dim-witted neighbor, Craig Parkinson as Omar’s good-hearted co-worker, and Benedict Cumberbatch in a very funny role as a negotiator who spouts very lewd comments about women’s body parts. Arsher Ali is very good as the hip-hop loving yet very naïve Hassan while Adeel Ahktar is excellent as the reluctant yet willing Faisal. Kayvan Novak is wonderful in a funny role as Waj who wants to impress the Jihad group despite not being very smart as he’s often confused about what to do. Nigel Lindsay is hilarious as the brash but unorganized leader Barry who tries to get things his way only to not fully realize what could be done. Finally, there’s Riz Ahmed in a superb performance as the determined yet conflicted Omar who wants to carry out his deed while being troubled by the countless screw-ups that is happening.
Four Lions is a funny and entertaining comedy from Chris Norris. While terrorism seems like an unlikely subject to be made fun of, Norris and his team is able to create something that is engaging as well as being satirical to what terrorists try to do. It’s also a very human film about what young Islamic men want to do in the belief that they’re fighting for something bigger though they endure countless screw-ups along the way. In the end, Four Lions is a stellar yet humorous film from Chris Norris.
© thevoid99 2011