These guys are not charming; they're horrifying in their ignorance, and they cause real damage. But there's a weird relief to be found in the opportunity to laugh ourselves sick at their expense, if only for an instant.
The director, Chris Morris, has been successfully making TV and radio comedies for 20 years. But he falters in this, his first feature. He's taken what might make a funny sketch and forced it to run more than an hour and a half.
Morris and his writers-four of them in this film as well -- like to torture logic with absurdist dialogue, and some of their gang's escapades are amusing rather than laughable. Yet "Four Lions" lacks a moral base.
Gradually, the madcap farcical tone of "Four Lions" gives way to something darker, as it becomes clear that Morris intends to follow his characters' pathological aims and motivations right to the end of the road.