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whilst at home lone wolves have conducted sporadic attacks across the West- and I'd argue that the percentage of Jihadists who c
on 14 January 2017
Comedy and tragedy often go hand-in-hand, and Four Lions certainly leans more on the tragic side. The premise is potentially a comedic goldmine, and there are glimpses of this films comedic promise (if this is the sort of humor you can stomach), but contrary to my expectations this film had a far more melancholy tone and was surprisingly deep and meaningful. The tragedy is that, in the end, none of the five members died the "glorious" death that they had envisaged: Faisal was not even committed to killing himself when he "tripped over a sheep"; Hassan buckled and was blown up against his own will; Barry died choking on a SIM card; Waj knew what he was doing was wrong, but he was confused into ignoring his conscious in favor of committing an act that he did not believe was moral; and finally, Omar blew himself up in a chemists, having failed to save Waj, in a call back to a scene earlier in the film were Omar had shut down the idea of blowing up a Boots store, stating instead that he wanted to do something that would "last in history". In their own ways each of these deaths is utterly undignified and tragic, but it is the deaths of Waj and Omar that struck me the most. Waj's death was particularly powerful because it (unfortunately) resembles many scenarios played out in the world today. Many Jihadists, confused and without a purpose, and probably with the knowledge that what they are doing is wrong, have flown to Syria to join ISIS, whilst at home lone wolves have conducted sporadic attacks across the West- and I'd argue that the percentage of Jihadists who commit these acts with complete certainty that they think they are doing a good deed, or that they are completely convinced and not at all doubtful, is a lot smaller then you might imagine. Omar's death too is particularly powerful, and at the end the fact that he blows himself up in a chemist is significant- I interpreted that as Omar giving on the course, not wanting to do something that would "last in history". In a way then, the main characters seem to resemble three types of Jihadists, all equally lost and confused: there are people like Barry, who are completely devoted to their ideology; there are the Waj's and Hassan's and Faisal's, who are confused and end up committing acts that they do not want to die for; and then there are the Omar's, who have given up on their cause but are too deep to turn back.
Each death also reveals to us the true nature of terrorism, stripping away any sense of honor or dignity or glamour from terrorist acts. Whilst groups like ISIS try their up most to present Jihad as some glorious act, this film shows how the life of a Jihadist is really the least "honorable" cause you could take up: none of their plans work, they are constantly in fear of being caught, and they die in the least dignified ways (it's ironic how Barry, the most committed, dies in probably the most pathetic way by choking on a SIM card and then being blown up as a civilian tries to save him). If you wanted to counter the propaganda of groups like ISIS, a film like this with a more serious tone would crush any sensationalism of terrorism.
However, I believe the most significant part of the film comes at the end. Because at the end, Omar's brother is being held and tortured for information- and this shows how terrorism ends up effecting those Muslims who have never committed a violent act. Unless I missed something and Omar's brother actually was a terrorist, I believe the films ending is meant to note how innocent Muslims suffer because of the effects of terrorism.
Overall this film definetely has it's comedic moments, but by the end it left me closer to tears of sorrow than tears of laughter. It is, if you read into the film enough, a crushingly tragic satire, which the gritty and realistic nature of the film helps to convey. A good comedy, but an even better tragedy.