this film kills you from the beginning. forgive the phrase, but it’s true. it opens as four guys are in a room trying to make an al-qaeda-type internet video where they threaten future attacks. it’s shot on a crummy video camera, and there are a lot of mistakes made. they fight about how to carry themselves, what to hold while they speak, and what to say. it devolves into madness and nonsense. it serves as the thesis for what this film is trying to say both about human nature and this type of person in general.
four lions is an exciting movie. not that it’s filled with excitement, although there are some moments of tension that are built to so exquisitely and slowly that it feels exciting.
no – to me it’s exciting because while watching it, i imagined i must have been feeling what certain people might have felt while watching kubrick’s dr strangelove or ashby’s the landlord when those films first came out. i felt like i was seeing the emergence of a true cinematic voice and someone so in command of satire and the absurdity of certain realities that i was already anticipating what they might do in the future.
the story of four lions is this: four wannabe jihadists living in england think they are training towards an attack. because of a family relation, two get the chance to travel to pakistan to train. instead of running the monkey bars like in every al-qaeda b-roll montage we’ve ever seen, they bungle it and fire an rpg at their trainers instead of a united states drone. they are chased away by their fellow jihadists.
they flee back to england and try to plan an attack regardless.
what follows is a farce with such a sense of satire about the ‘bad guys’, the nature of evil and the war on terrorism that this film really ought to be required viewing.
the film doesn’t really dissect it’s characters, like a film like dr strangelove does. instead, it just gives a one-dimensional story of these four hapless warriors and along the way it exposes a lot about our assumptions regarding them and their probable assumptions about us.
what was curious about the movie was that their motives are unexplained. the lead lion in particlar, passionately played by kayvan novak, has a job he seems to like, ironically doing security. his boss is his buddy. he has a beautiful, loving wife and a charming son. he has a nice house. you wonder what his beef is. but in the film, his family doesn’t question. his wife sits on his lap as he discusses his plan. he distorts the storyline of the lion king for his son who, head on his hands gleefully inquires: …and then he’ll be a martyr?
it’s draw dropping. it’s deliriously funny. it’s sad. and it’s probably true to life.
this is really christopher morris’ first film. he’s worked some in british tv. he also co-wrote the script. i cannot wait to see what he does next.