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'Four Lions' is funny take on terrorism

“Four Lions”

Four/Five Pitchforks

Starring Riz Ahmed, Nigel Lindsey

Rated R

Out on DVD March 8

“Four Lions” may be the most thought-provoking, captivating and hilarious film about wannabe terrorists in years. The dark comedy is centered on bumbling terrorists who believe they are fighting for their religion.

Now with the DVD release, we can see why Time magazine rated it one of the top films of the year. Even though this may not be the most family-friendly film, the central message could teach all of us a thing or two about how we view the connection between terrorists and the Muslim religion.

In the film, five wannabe terrorists from London strive to fight for the cause of Islamic radicals. Riz Ahmed plays Omar, the willful leader who is committed to the cause. Unfortunately, he has chosen the four most ill equipped, ignorant henchmen this side of Pakistan.

After horrible training in a terrorist camp (involving a mishandled bazooka that winds up blowing the terrorist camp to pieces) the group decides to wreak havoc in London to send a message to the world.

The dim-witted Waj (Kayvan Novak) and the headstrong “Invisible Jihadi” Barry (Nigel Lindsey) steal the show with their one-liners and doltish antics. These guys better resemble the misinformed disciples in “Life of Brian” than the criminal masterminds they believe themselves to be. Waj and Barry are polar-opposite characters but they control the action of the movie; their hijinks dictate how Omar leads his band of misfits.

After much deliberation, the group decides to forgo blowing up a mosque (Barry: “Bomb the mosque. Radicalize the Moderates. Bring it on!”) as well as attaching explosives to crows (you can guess what happens there). Their true target: the London Marathon.

The secondary characters help underscore Omar and company’s clumsiness. Omar’s brother is a devout Muslim and really talks Omar down for being as radical as he is. The more he tries to show him a peaceful path, the more Omar berates him for being so weak-minded. Omar’s family might mock his brother but this bullying shows how out-of-touch Omar is with his terrorist goals.

That is the movie’s central goal: to distinguish what separates these terrorist groups from the religions they are fighting for. Turns out a whole lot separates them. These rag-tag clowns succeed in creating more problems for themselves than for anyone else as a result of their ignorance.

As the days grow nearer to the attack, Omar and the gang’s plans get more exaggerated and more hilarious because the paranoia and pressure of suicide bombing weighs down on them. Through this planning, however, their human qualities show them not to be blood-thirsty terrorists but just misguided and scared individuals.

If you can make your way through the thick accents and British pop culture references, you’ll really enjoy this movie. This is not to say you should shelve it; just that you’ll enjoy it more if you are in the know. Though I wouldn’t suggest it for date night or family night, “Four Lions” is a well-informed and informational movie on the misconceptions of Islam and its radicals while cracking a cheeky joke or two. Who says learning can’t be fun?

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