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Movies & TV

27th Jun 2023

Netflix has just added one of the most controversial comedies of recent years

Rory Cashin

Four Lions

It comes from the creators of Brass Eye, Peep Show and Succession.

Released in cinemas in May 2010, the arrival of Four Lions was greeted with a smile through gritted teeth, as viewers were left unsure if they should laugh or grimace.

Directed by Chris Morris (Brass Eye, I’m Alan Partridge), who also co-wrote the script with Jesse Armstrong (Succession, In The Loop) and Sam Bain (Peep Show, Babylon), it tells the story of a group of radicalised young British Muslim men who aspire to be suicide bombers.

The darkly comedic movie is fronted by an incredible performance by Riz Ahmed (Nightcrawler, Sound of Metal), as the sorta-leader of the foursome of Muslim men, and the movie also features an early career appearance by Benedict Cumberbatch, as a negotiator from the UK’s Special Branch.

Check out the Four Lions trailer above.

Morris told The Guardian that he began work on Four Lions ahead of the 7/7 bombings in London in 2005, but was directly influenced by those events:

“It was an attempt to figure it out, to ask, ‘What’s going on with this?’ This [the ‘War on Terror’] is something that’s commanding so much of our lives, shaping so much of our culture, turning this massive political wheel. I was wondering what this new game was all about. But then 7/7 hit that with a fairly large impact, in that we were suddenly seeing all these guys with a Hovis accent. Suddenly you’re not dealing with an amorphous Arab world so much as with British people who have been here quite a long time and who make curry and are a part of the landscape. So you’ve got a double excavation going on.”

Making only $4.7 million worldwide, it was far from a commercial hit, but the movie did score 83% with critics on Rotten Tomatoes:

Box Office Magazine – “While the film is likely to find outright rejection among those who remain jittery with each turn in the War Against Terror, it should find a warm reception with fans of dark, outrageous humour.”

Entertainment Weekly – “These guys are not charming; they’re horrifying in their ignorance, and they cause real damage. But there’s a weird relief to be found in the opportunity to laugh ourselves sick at their expense, if only for an instant.”

Slate – “The very existence of Four Lions is an act of audacity; the fact that it’s also smart, humane, and frequently hilarious is nothing short of a miracle.”

AV Club – “Chris Morris’ corrosive black comedy Four Lions explores the lighter side of jihad. It’s a ballsy romp through one of the least lighthearted subjects imaginable.”

Four Lions is available to watch on Netflix in Ireland and the UK right now.

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