|Directed by||Chris Morris|
|Produced by||Mark Herbert
|Written by||Chris Morris
|Editing by||Billy Sneddon|
|Distributed by||Optimum Releasing (UK)|
|Release date(s)||23 January 2010 (Sundance Film Festival)
|Running time||100 minutes|
Four Lions (working title Boilerhouse) is the debut feature film from director Chris Morris and is written by Morris, Sam Bain and Jesse Armstrong. 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. 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. A fifth member, Hassan (Arsher Ali), is recruited by Barry while Omar and Waj are in Pakistan. Fessal accidentally kills himself during a training exercise. The film culminates in the remaining four blowing themselves up at the London Marathon.
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. Morris has described the film as a "farce" which exposes the "Dad's Army side to terrorism"; Warp's Deirdre Steed compares it to Spinal Tap or Dr. Strangelove.
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. Funding was secured in October 2008 from Film 4 Productions and Warp Films, with Mark Herbert producing. Filming began in Sheffield in May 2009.
The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2010 and was short-listed for the festival's World Cinema Narrative prize. 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."
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. Other reactions, notably those from UK publications were more critical. The Financial Times called the film a "spectacular miss" and The Guardian wrote "as a satire on terror, Four Lions seems to be a missed opportunity".