By Tom Cassidy,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
British satire has terrorism, violence, strong language.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
No positive messages with characters acting selfishly, dangerously, and naively in the name of religion. Authority figures are also shown in a negative light.
Positive Role Models
From the jihadi terrorists to the British government and police, no main characters are shown in a positive light. Omar and his fellow terrorists are depicted as a mix of selfish, dangerous, naive, and unintelligent. People following the Islamic faith are shown as dedicated, patient, and dismissive of terrorists.
Violence & Scariness
Characters detonate bomb vests. The explosions are shown with no blood or gore but result in death. Characters threaten others and occasionally fight physically, with some blood. A missile launcher is fired at a terrorist training camp. Characters talk about committing terrorist acts -- including with their own child -- and a bomb-making process is shown in some scenes. A bomb is strapped to a crow and explodes. A sheep is also blown up. Armed police raids are shown and terrorists plot to bomb the London Marathon.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Sex, Romance & Nudity
Characters occasionally talk about finding the opposite sex attractive and use sexually aggressive language. One bestiality joke. Condoms mentioned.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Sex, Romance & Nudity in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Frequent language includes "f--k," "f--king," "s--t," "Jesus," "bastards," "bollocks," "slag," "arse," and "d--khead." Anti-Semitic talk and the British racist term "Paki" is also used. Anti-gay slurs. Urdu slang includes "bhenchod." Term "retard" used.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Language in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Products & Purchases
Brands are mentioned but not promoted. McDonald's, Big Mac, and Disneyland are included as symbols of capitalism. Fancy dress costumes include Chewbacca from Star Wars, a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, and the Honey Monster. A well-known British cellphone shop features.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Four Lions is a hilarious, but dark British satirical comedy -- about a group of men planning a terrorist attack in the name of Al-Qaeda -- with plenty of strong language. The movie is very funny but also at times deadly serious. Suicide bombers -- led by Omar (Riz Ahmed) -- target the London Marathon for a terrorist attack. Characters detonate bomb vests and die. They also squabble and resort to violence amongst themselves. A sheep and a crow are blown up. Threats are made regularly and parts of a bomb making process are shown. Religion is respected in the movie. The terrorists are shown as misguided, petty, and ignorant; poles apart from the characters in the movie who follow Islam. There is frequent strong language, including "f--k," and "s--t." There is also anti-Semitic and homophobic language, as well as the term "retard." The movie also features strong language in Urdu as well as the British racist slur "Paki." Characters talk derogatorily about women, frequently using the British slang term "slag."
To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Where to Watch
Videos and Photos
Based on 1 parent review
Provocative and thoughtful
Report this review
What's the Story?
In FOUR LIONS, wannabe terrorist Omar (Riz Ahmed) tries to lead a bumbling group of jihadists as they struggle to plot an attack.
Is It Any Good?
For a studio to fund a comedy about terrorists, they'd have to be certain it's going to walk one of cinema's thinnest lines and not succumb to any of the pitfalls too countless to mention. But with Four Lions, Britain's sharpest, most surreal satirist, Christopher Morris treads that line triumphantly, seamlessly delivering both a constantly laugh-out-loud comedy and a heartbreaking, chilling terrorist thriller. The cast are incredible, with leads Ahmed and Kayvan Novak both giving very different powerhouse performances. Waj (Novak) verges on ridiculous in his lack of comprehension, but his lost look is packed with pathos. Meanwhile, more intelligent family man, Omar (Ahmed) is utterly chilling, as he calmly discusses the moment he'll die in a suicide attack with his supportive wife and young son.
The twisted ideology of the jihadists is toxic, garbled garbage that plays in contrast to the Islamic characters' beliefs. But their actions are never downplayed as anything but deadly. The Western culture that helped spawn these ideas is also shown up, as is the clueless, out of touch British government and the police. The hilarious movie breezes by. But masterfully woven beneath the surface is a thick and complex web of ideas and searing commentary. It looks great, too. Morris mixes long 1970s zooms worthy of Francis Ford Coppola's The Conversation with handheld shots, CCTV footage, and night vision, to create a heady ride that's static and steady, then explosive and, sadly, hyper-real. A modern classic, if only to show that no subject is off limits, if tackled the right way.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the strong language in Four Lions. Did it seem necessary or excessive? What did it contribute to the movie?
Discuss the violence in the movie. Was it shocking or thrilling? Did the fact that the movie had comedic elements impact how you felt about those scenes? If so, why? Does exposure to violent media desensitize kids to violence?
Discuss the characters who want to be terrorists. Why were they so determined to defend their beliefs and cause harm to others?
Do you think all subjects are OK to satirize or should some things, such as religion, not be joked about? What use does satire serve?
- In theaters: November 5, 2010
- On DVD or streaming: March 8, 2011
- Cast: Riz Ahmed, Kayvan Novak, Nigel Lindsay
- Director: Christopher Morris
- Inclusion Information: Middle Eastern/North African actors
- Studio: Drafthouse Films
- Genre: Comedy
- Run time: 97 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: language throughout, including some sexual references
- Last updated: June 2, 2023
Inclusion information powered by
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
Suggest an Update
Where to Watch
Our Editors Recommend
Best Satire Sites and Shows for Teens
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.See how we rate