Most helpful critical review
In spite of the subject matter, see for yourself
on 2 August 2013
When it comes to black comedy, one really has to forget everything they've heard about the particular subject matter being joked about, and only apply it back once you've gotten a general idea of what it's like. This is how I decided to tackle Chris Morris' "Four Lions", a crime-caper comedy movie centred around a band of not-too-bright terrorists in northern England.
Chris Morris is no stranger to creating comedy from controversial material (See also "Brass Eye") and I certainly wouldn't be surprised if there were indeed people out there who objected to the ideas that Four Lions is aiming to bring across, namely that perhaps terrorists know less about what they're fighting for than they think they do - a prospect both funny and disturbing at the same time. However, this is not a film that's aiming to glorify the actions of the main characters, as one would probably expect. Not only are the actions of the Four Lions still portrayed as generally unsuccessful and with consequences, but without wishing to spoil anything, let's just say that as far as endings to comedy films go, Four Lions isn't exactly one of the happy ones.
I quite enjoyed Four Lions. The acting was very solid on the parts of all the actors, with some genuine effort put in to make the conversations feel realistic in spite of the comedic nature of the film, and Nigel Lindsay's role as Barry (Funnily, the only one of the main bunch whose name stands out as not-particularly-middle-eastern) helped to sell the pretty funny idea of someone outside of the particular terrorist cell converting to said cell and taking the ideologies noticeably more seriously than the rest of them.
I wouldn't say it's a great film, though. The pacing feels rather slow at times, something which is already demonstrated through how bloated the running time feels; and as mentioned before, although I wouldn't exactly criticise the film for doing this (What with the continued idea of not glorifying the actions of the main cast), as I've said before, the ending still makes one leave with a pretty negative impression at the repercussions of the main characters' actions.
However, controversial subject matter is what it is, so I would recommend at least renting this film and seeing what you think for yourself. Chris Morris has certainly done better in the field of short-form TV comedies, but as far as feature-length films go, I look forward to what he might be planning next.