Imagine all the images you have of Islamic terrorism - then throw them out the window before you go and see this movie. Chris Morris' 'Four Lions' is a starkly original film which attempts to deconstruct the common perception of suicide bombers. It does this by depicting the ordinary lives of would-be terrorists living in a nondescript British town.
For readers unfamiliar with Chris Morris, he is the man behind the highly politically incorrect, highly derogatory and extraordinarily humorous Channel 4 TV series 'Brass Eye'.
The film follows five British jihadists as they attempt to follow their dreams. They are led by Omar (Ahmed), who claims to despise western culture and wishes to empower Muslim people worldwide. His four followers are his devoted best friend; a wannabe rapper; a white Islamic convert with a hatred of all things non-Muslim and a socially challenged man whose dream it is to train a crow to fly explosives into the already destroyed Twin Towers. Get the picture? Yes, this is crazy stuff, but if you like your social commentary twisted and delivered through laughs, then 'Four Lions' is spot on.
Morris' film never falls into the territory of either preaching or playing solely for gags. Instead, 'Four Lions' attempts to convey how five men become so obsessed with the concept of jihad that they think it is normal to wish to destroy their non-Muslim friends and neighbours. By creating everyday characters, 'Four Lions' allows the audience to relate to the protagonists and share in their experience of attempting to declare holy war.
Jokes such as one character explaining jihad is necessary because 'women are talking back and we've got people playing string instruments' highlight the absurdity of the terrorist cause. Morris uses humour as a way to convey the dedication that terrorists have for their bloodthirsty and narrow-minded endeavours.
Shot in a fly-on-the-wall style, 'Four Lions' also partly takes place in an Al-Qaeda training camp in Pakistan. The switching of locations between England and Pakistan is another excellent device to highlight the huge discrepancies between the ideologies and experiences of UK and South-Asian Muslims.
Criticism will be levelled at this film, of this there can be no doubt. Film critics will write that some of the gags fall flat and the social commentary is weak, while Muslims will be angered at how some of them are depicted. These opinions are totally valid because a script as controversial as this will offend and please in equal measure. However, if 'Four Lions' is meant to raise questions through which we can all question the principles of society, then it ticks that box. If film is meant to entertain, then 'Four Lions' ticks that box also.
One truth emerges from 'Four Lions': everyone is searching for some truth in life - it's just that some people may get lost along the way.