The film debut of Brass Eye mastermind Chris Morris was always going to be an event to savour for some, and one to revile for others. The man did not disappoint. The subject for his debut comedy was unsurprisingly surprising: Islamic fundamentalist terrorism. A cornerstone of any great comedy.
Luckily for me I like my comedy dark.
The film involves a group of young muslims living up north: Waj (Kayvan Novak), Barry (Nigel Lindsay), Faisal (Adeel Akhtar), Hassan (Asher Ali) and the leader of the group Omar (Riz Ahmed). All become radicalised and hatch a plot to bomb the London Marathon to show their hate for the west, their love for Allah, and their desire to become martyrs.
The film then follows their increasingly desperate plans to bring their mission together, from Faisal’s idea to train birds to become suicide bombers, to the ridiculous Barry at constant loggerheads with the cool-headed leader Omar over his plot to bomb a mosque. The constant bickering between the men shows them not as evil killers, but as people trying to achieve a goal, and in the Great British tradition, failing miserably. All the actors inject the film with wonderful moments, each having a moment to shine.
The film finds a surprising amount of fun in planning a massacre, never crow baring in any false morality though at the same time never forgetting that these men’s plans involve taking a lot of innocent lives. The film manages to make you laugh hysterically, then make you shift in your seat without ever switching tone, never straining to do either. The moment Omar says his final goodbye to his beautiful wife Sophia (Preeya Kalidas) is genuinely disturbing in it’s subtlety; her acceptance of her husband’s actions and support for his cause without her saying a word as he leaves to commit his atrocity is chilling.
If the subject matter makes you uncomfortable, then the film might not sway you. However if, like me, you think comedy is best when it’s barbed then you’ll love this film. Some people will have you believe that making a film about terrorism is sick. Don’t listen to them. Undermining the image of the terrorist as an infallible killer is what they fear the most, perfectly captured in the film when the motley crew film their Jihad videos, trying to strike fear in the heart of the populace.
A great film. Four out of five Mini Baby Bells.
P.S. Just to settle an argument, a Wookie is clearly not a bear. Not sure what a Honey Monster is though.