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Four Lions
Directed by Chris Morris
Produced by Mark Herbert
Derrin Schlesinger
Written by Chris Morris
Jesse Armstrong
Sam Bain
Starring Riz Ahmed
Arsher Ali
Nigel Lindsay
Kayvan Novak
Adeel Akhtar
Darren Boyd
Kevin Eldon
Cinematography Lol Crawley
Editing by Billy Sneddon
Studio Warp Films
Film 4
Wild Bunch
Distributed by Optimum Releasing (UK)
Release date(s) 23 January 2010 (Sundance Film Festival)
2010 (UK)
Running time 100 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Budget £4 million

Four Lions (working title Boilerhouse) is the debut feature film from director Chris Morris and is written by Morris, Sam Bain and Jesse Armstrong.[1] The film is a satire based on a group of four Islamic Jihadi terrorists from the north of England.



The plot follows four young Muslim men from the north of England who become radicalised and decide to become suicide bombers. Two members of the group, Omar (Riz Ahmed) and Waj (Kayvan Novak), go to a terrorist training camp in Pakistan.[2] The other two are Barry (Nigel Lindsay), who is a convert to Islam, and Fessal (Adeel Akhtar), who tries to train crows to be bombers.[3] A fifth member, Hassan (Arsher Ali), is recruited by Barry while Omar and Waj are in Pakistan.[2] Fessal accidentally kills himself during a training exercise.[2] The film culminates in the remaining four blowing themselves up at the London Marathon.[4]


Morris claims to have spent three years researching this project, speaking to terrorism experts, police, the secret service, imams as well as ordinary Muslims, writing the script in 2007.[5] Morris has described the film as a "farce" which exposes the "Dad's Army side to terrorism";[6] Warp's Deirdre Steed compares it to Spinal Tap or Dr. Strangelove.[6]

The project was originally rejected by both the BBC and Channel 4 as being too controversial. Morris suggested in a mass email that fans could contribute between £25 and £100 each to the production costs of the film and would appear as extras in return.[7] Funding was secured in October 2008 from Film 4 Productions and Warp Films, with Mark Herbert producing. Filming began in Sheffield in May 2009.[8][9]


The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2010[10] and was short-listed for the festival's World Cinema Narrative prize.[11] Introducing the film's premiere Chris Morris said: “I feel in a weird way that this is a good-hearted film. It's not a hate film, so I would hope that that aspect would come through."[12]

The UK premiere is due to take place at the Bradford International Film Festival on 25 March 2010[13] and nationwide release is scheduled for 7 May.[14]


Upon its screening at Sundance, The Los Angeles Times and The Hollywood Reporter gave the film extremely positive reviews, the latter describing the film as "a brilliant takedown of the imbecility of fanaticism" drawing comparisons with This Is Spinal Tap and The Three Stooges.[15][16] Other reactions, notably those from UK publications were more critical. The Financial Times called the film a "spectacular miss"[17] and The Guardian wrote "as a satire on terror, Four Lions seems to be a missed opportunity".[18]


  1. ^ Jay Richardson (25 January 2009). "The prolific writing trio behind Peep Show and The Thick Of It tell why they're pushing the mainstream so close to the edge". The Scotsman. Retrieved 2009-07-28. 
  2. ^ a b c Kaleem Aftab (25 January 2010). "First Night: Four Lions, Sundance Film Festival". The Independent. Retrieved 2010-01-27. 
  3. ^ Justin Chang (24 January 2010). "Four Lions Review - Read Variety's Analysis Of The Movie Four Lions". Variety. Retrieved 2010-02-07. 
  4. ^ Nick Fraser (24 January 2010). "Four Lions: How satirist Chris Morris fixed his eye on ideology and bombers". The Observer. Retrieved 2010-02-07. 
  5. ^ Chris Morris (25 November 2007). "The Absurd world of Martin Amis". The Observer. Retrieved 2009-07-26. 
  6. ^ a b Geneviève Roberts (6 January 2009). "Wannabe suicide bombers beware: Chris Morris movie gets go-ahead". The Independent. Retrieved 2009-07-26. 
  7. ^ David Moats (13 October 2008). "Chris Morris announces Jihad Film/Needs money". The Quietus. Retrieved 2009-07-26. 
  8. ^ "Chris Morris directing something on the Moor". Retrieved 2009-07-26. 
  9. ^ "Set shot from Chris Morris' Four Lions". Bleeding Retrieved 2009-07-26. 
  10. ^ "Chris Morris's terrorist comedy premieres at Sundance". BBC News. 25 January 2010. Retrieved 2010-01-25. 
  11. ^
  12. ^ Amber Wilkinson (17 February 2010). "Roaring into controversy?: Chris Morris on his inspiration for suicide bomber comedy Four Lions - and why his isn't worried about the press". Eye For Film. Retrieved 2010-02-18. 
  13. ^
  14. ^ "Four Lions Sundance diary". The Guardian. 06 February 2010. Retrieved 2010-02-08. 
  15. ^ "Sundance 2010: 'Four Lions' is scary funny". The Los Angeles Times. 26 January 2010. Retrieved 2010-01-31. 
  16. ^ "Four Lions -- Film Review". The Hollywood Reporter. 26 January 2010. Retrieved 2010-01-31. 
  17. ^ "Sundance film festival". Financial Times. 25 January 2010. Retrieved 2010-01-31. 
  18. ^ "Chris Morris's Four Lions: a mixed dish that fails to satisfy". The Guardian. 25 January 2010. Retrieved 2010-01-31. 

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