It would be unwise to consider Four Lions a movie that has much to say about radical Islam or the threat of terrorism. Instead, think of Four Lions as Airheads, except that instead of the idiots wanting to get their song played on the radio, the idiots want to blow themselves up. Though Chris Morris’s very funny movie revolves around a cell of hapless would-be terrorists, its chief concerns, and strengths, have little to do with ideology—and everything to do with comedy. Is Morris tweaking the untweakable by choreographing a farce around terrorists killing innocent Londoners? Sure, but not, it seems, as a political stance: He’s breaking taboos because broken taboos can be hilarious.
Omar (Riz Ahmed) is a security guard whose sweet wife and son ask him constantly how his plans for jihad are going. Despite a failed trip to a training camp in Pakistan—where real terrorists call Omar “fucking Mr. Beans”—he has managed to recruit a gang of like-minded radicals, all of them building bombs for the final conflagration. Among the broad comic types that make up Omar’s band of numbskulls—the dimwit, the blowhard, the rich kid—funniest of all is sheepish Fessal (Adeel Akhtar), who quietly admits he’d like to bomb U.K. pharmacy Boots because “they sell condoms that make you want to bang white girls.”
There’s nothing particularly political about an argument in which one moron convinces another to punch himself in the face, but, as performed by a uniformly terrific cast, there’s plenty that’s great about it. And while there are explosions in Four Lions—people die, as well as a sheep and a very unlucky crow—it’s the scenes of delightfully witless banter, devised by Morris and his three co-writers, that are the film’s real special effects.