Dir. Chris Morris, 2010
British comedy mogul Chris Morris first raised public outcry in 2001 when his satirical news program Brass Eye poked a red-hot eye at the nation’s outsized fear of paedophiles. In 2010, he made his first feature film showcasing the only thing that scared Britons more: Al Qaeda.
Set in unassuming Sheffield, Four Lions tells the story of Omar (Riz Ahmed), a terrorist hopeful who plans to bomb the London Marathon, beating out the plan by temperamental convert Barry (Nigel Lindsay) to pull a false flag operation against a mosque. Of course, the members of the cell aren’t very religious at all– in fact, Omar’s disapproving brother is as non-violent as he is devout. The audience is treated to the slapstick, petty bickering, and general silliness of the group as they fail upward to a horrific conclusion.
It’s Morris’ lack of compromise that makes this film as dark as it is, but his research is air-tight: interviews with Pakistani British, intel experts, and even ex-jihadis confirm that homegrown suicide attacks are usually bizarre failures. Sure, the guys all blow themselves up, but maybe, like in Paedogeddon, Morris is telling a funny story to makes us less afraid. If the purpose of terrorism is to terrorize, then he is our best weapon. B+
Note: This was the end of my original run of reviews for film school, but now they will continue!