SCREEN: Netflix Pick Of The Week: Four Lions

by Winston "Stone" Ford

The Brits do this better than we can. I remember the day of the 7/7 bombings in London. I was frantically trying to email/call a friend who was overseas to see if they were okay. The bombings, which attacked train and bus lines was billed as the most devastating (to a Western country) since 9/11. After a few hours and a few emails I got a response from my friend. She just got back from the pub. In fact, most of London not only went on as planned but it seemed like they drank harder that night.

So with this in mind, I’m not surprised that a movie like Four Lions exists. It could only be made in the UK.

Lions is a comical look at four wannabe terrorists trying to bomb the London Marathon. Led by Barry, a white convert to Islam and the most violent of the bunch, Waj and Faisal the goofs, and Omar (the perennial straight man), the bunch tries to operate like a traditional terrorist cell. In typical British fashion, however, the somewhat serious tone of terrorism is played off with an almost Monty Python-like irrelevancy. First the terrorists go off to Afghanistan and end up killing Osama Bin Laden (this movie was released before the Americans took care of that) then the group goes back to the UK to hatch their plan, resulting in some rather hilarious scenes (like when Faisal suggest using cows as suicide bombers).

YouTube Preview Image

The buffoonery is quite comical, and almost makes you feel sorry for the lot rather than taking them seriously. However, towards the end, you’re snapped back into reality when you realize the crew are still terrorists and they do intend to hurt innocent people. The comedy fades into a stark reality, a trait that few films are able to pull off.

Even with the Brit’s “Keep Calm and Carry On,” attitude, the film proved controversial in the UK, being rejected by the BBC and the edgier Channel 4. However the question remains about this film…are we supposed to laugh or cry? Are we supposed to feel sorry for these guys, or scared? The jury is still out.