Review: Four Lions (15)****

The cack-handed gang of would-be jihadis at the core of Chris Morris's so-called comedy of terrorism are about as average a bunch of blokes as one might meet.

Their problem is one of identity: who they are, what they believe in and what, ultimately, they stand for. Locating that common ground is Morris's mission in this sharp modern satire that demands admiration for its courage in ignoring pleas for sensitivity, while ploughing ahead with some of the funniest set pieces in any modern drama/comedy.

Omar, Waj, Fessal, Hassan and Barry, the latter a paranoid white Muslim convert, are a quintet of northern lads who decide to strike a blow against the decadent West by becoming suicide bombers. Their target: the London Marathon.

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Yet from the outset Morris makes it clear that this mismatched group of none-too-bright chaps cannot achieve their goal, as a trip to Pakistan proves. Faced with genuine Mujahedeen, Omar and Waj are immediately exposed as hapless fantasists.

Yet they move forward with their plot. Their factory of home-made bombs resembles a student common room. They experiment with flying bombs – courtesy of a cigarette packet strapped to a crow. And can they trust the hippy next door – or should they kill her?

Four Lions has about it a Full Monty feel tinged with Monty Python. Barry (Nigel Lindsay, excellent) resembles Peter Sellers' arch trade unionist, Fred Kite, in I'm All Right, Jack, while the writing is as cutting as anything Johnny Speight ever conceived for Alf Garnett.

What elevates Four Lions above being just another attempt at controversial comedy is Morris's understanding of situation comedy and the humour at the heart of the tale.

Morris, with co-writers Jesse Armstrong and Sam Bain, also directs his wit at the British establishment, which does not emerge in a particularly good light.