Quint has seen Chris Morris' suicide bomber comedy FOUR LIONS at Sundance 2010!
Published at: Jan. 23, 2010, 11:31 p.m. CST by quint
Ahoy, squirts! Quint here. When I posted my preview list of my most anticipated Sundance films I caught a lot of flack from our UK readers for not including this title, the first feature film from Chris Morris best known for the series BRASS EYE and THE DAY TODAY, which I’m ashamed to say I’m totally ignorant of.
To make my penance I used up my one press ticket request for Saturday on the premiere screening of this film.
In attendance was director Chris Morris as well as all four of the title characters, played by Riz Ahmed, Kayvan Novak, Nigel Lindsay and Arsher Ali.
Basically this is a crazy comedy about suicide bombers. Yeah, seriously. These London born Muslims seem to be driven to join the Mujahideen for some reason… but the problem is they’re all kind of dumbasses.
Well, except for Riz Ahmed who plays Omar… he’s the only one of the group that seems to be genuinely into the idea of blowing himself up for the greater glory. We get the impression that he’s not exactly against Western civilization on the whole, but wrapped up in the rhetoric and the idea of the express lane to heaven.
But even Riz fucks up a whole lot, including a spectacular attempt to shoot down a US drone plane while at a training camp in Pakistan with a missile launcher that he very obviously doesn’t know how to use.
It’s hard to describe the comedy in the movie because it’s a little bit of everything. There’s slapstick in it, most specifically a great scene where the five members of the group have to move volatile explosives after their car breaks down… it’s kind of a like the comedy version of WAGES OF FEAR, but on foot… of course by the end of this scene the five man group is a four man group.
So there’s that, but there’s also some subtler stuff, like Omar sharing a sweet family moment that in another film would be a light scene about something innocent… a young son giving the kind of little kid support we all grow out of at some point before the pubes grow out that ends in the mother, father and kid all holding hands and looking lovingly at each other. That does happen in this movie, but the kid’s essentially telling his father to get himself up to heaven and blow the shit out of the some innocent people.
The clear audience favorite character was the “thick as fudge” Waj, played by Kayvan Novak. He’s a big dumb puppy of a guy whose heart seems to be more in following Omar than any real desire to join the Mujahideen. These kinds of group comedies need that borderline retarded member… And most examples I can think of, like Galifianakis in The Hangover, steal the show. Kayvan’s no exception and you know that from the opening frames of the movie, video footage as he’s trying to make a terrorist tape and insists on holding a miniature plastic AK-47 despite the protests of the cameraman who says it looks silly. It’s too small! Waj’s solution? Scoot in closer to the camera so the gun will look bigger.
That leaves the rapping extremist Hassan played by Arsher Ali and the converted cockney white dude turned Muslim Extremist Barry played by Nigel Lindsay. Ali’s Hassan has more whacky moments, but Lindsay plays Barry as a tough-ass who projects a dangerous angry “fuck the world” attitude, but always stops just before crossing the line whenever pressed.
I liked the cast and Chris Morris and his writing team of Jesse Armstrong, Sam Bain and Simon Blackwell obviously are very funny people, but the movie isn’t a flawless rush of laughs. There are some jokes that didn’t work very well for me. Just small things, but the small things add up sometimes to whole scenes that just pass by. However the movie definitely ends on a high note with our group deciding to bomb the London Marathon, dressed up in ridiculous costumes (the run is for a kid’s charity). Barry dresses as a Ninja Turtle. Gotta love that. And a Wookie gets shot by a police sniper told to aim for the one dressed as a bear.
Ultimately it’s a good comedy, not a great comedy. General audiences might have some trouble with the thick UK accents, but I can this becoming a popular college town release. If nothing else it’s a premise you’re unlikely to see anywhere else!
Here’s a clip to give you a taste of the flick: