A film following the lives of 5 wannabe Muslim bombers from near Sheffield. A dark subject matter and one that results in a dark comedy drama.
Directed by Chris Morris (perhaps best known for the excellent ‘The Day Today News’) who has a knack for finding ridiculous views and exposing them for the nonsense they are, best illustrated with his Brass Eye Paeodophile special and the tabloid media response to the programme which was exactly what he was satirising in the first place. In his radio programme ‘Blue Jam’ he also explored the more fantastical and experimental side of his disturbing musings.
Here, however, he takes the easier route of simply painting most of the characters as so stupid and inept that the laughs are of a simple “what a buffoon!” type. It doesn’t feel much like you’d imagine a Chris Morris film would to be honest. There are a few moments that are genuinely very funny (the sheep, the squat runs, the discussion leading to a punch in the face, Nigel Lindsay’s character’s amusing undirected rage) but there is also a sense of avoiding the elephant in the room of why? It feels a bit contrived, but if it’s not then what if someone a bit more normal got tangled up in this?
One of the characters, Omar (Riz Ahmed), provides a hint at this very scenario. He’s the character who’s not quite so stupid, who has a wife and a kid and the discussions in his home with his family are genuinely unsettling. All the time the lads are chatting and plotting together seems sufficiently showy and detached as to be derisible, but when Omar’s wife echoes his views it starts, for me at least, to raise all sorts of uncomfortable unanswered questions about the motivations involved.
As the story of the characters draws to an end in the third act, you’re left wondering what the message of the film is. You spend an hour and a half laughing at the ineptness of unwaveringly motivated but stupid bunch of fictional people who still end up causing tragedy. Hmmm, disappointing.
2 on 5
Director: Chris Morris
Starring: Adeel Akhtar, Arsher Ali, Kayvan Novak, Nigel Lindsay, Preeya Kalidas, Riz Ahmed
UK Release: 7th May 2010