Tag Archives: Afghanistan

Four Lions: Terrorism at its Finest

In this dark comedy/mockumentary of the Islamic world of terrorism, four “lions” of men come together for one reason only, to attack the Western infidels of Sheffield, England in order to send a message. And what a message they send. In one of the funniest movies of the past five years, for me, I couldn’t stop laughing as these moderately incompetent terrorists attempt to lay some waste and terror all over some English peoples. There’s mishaps, wavering trust and faith, and even some exploding sheep. Nothing could be better than one of the most controversial films to ever deal with a hot button issue.

This misfit group of terrorists are really intent on blowing up something. Be it a drug store or the members of a fun run, Hell, even their own mosque, they plan to incite some rage and tension between countries. There’s Omar (Riz Ahmed), the leader of the group with the best head on his shoulders. He plans to leave his family and be truer to the Muslim faith than his bookworm of a brother. What shocked me most about this film was why Omar’s loving and beautiful wife and son are okay with all that

Some kooky terrorists on the prowl.

he’s doing. There’s Omar’s dim witted friend and “bro” Waj (Kayvan Novak). Always wanting to travel on those “rubber dingy rapids”, Waj has the best of intentions but always seems to screw it up along the way. Throw in the wild card Barry (Nigel Lindsay) the white Muslim converted Englander who feels he’s better suited for terrorist acts than anyone in the group. He screws up a lot, but will never admit to his mistakes. And there’s Faisal (Adeel Akhtar) the man who blows up crows in preparation for an airborne attack.

Hassan pullin’ off some Muslim rapping.

Bring together this rag-tag bunch of Muslim extremists and you have a recipe for disaster. They cook up bombs in their flat with huge amounts of bleach and other cleaning products and slang it around with one of the funniest escape scenes you’ll ever see. There’s arguments on what a Wookie is (a bear or not?) and whether being a Muslim rapper is the right path in life. There are some great scenes in Afghanistan where Omar and Waj go for training and one of my favorite muck-up scenes takes place there as well. Is it racist I attempt to put on a English tinted Muslim accent? RUBBER DINGY RAPIDS BRO.

I was mightily impressed with Chris Morris’ directing and writing in this film. He researched information on the situation of terrorism and the “War on Terror” prior to this film. This helped accurately represent the frustrated characters he created in this film that just want to blow shit up. Coming from an actor turned director that I’ve watched in a few seasons of The IT Crowd, his humor wasn’t represented, and replaced with a much darker and brooding one. The council scene in which the local residents in Sheffield debate about terrorism is hard to watch and quite frightening when Hassan (Arsher Ali) is introduced. Their ideals and views may come across as ridiculous, but there are those out there who believe infidels must be killed and women must be locked away.

Explain this. Word.

Get some, Omar.

Not recognizing any of the actors from this film really helped enhance the experience of watching this film. They’re all fine actors and you begin to believe they are strong extremist Muslim supporters in this film. The gorilla style of shooting and set ups are all interesting and give a gritty feel to the film. The Afghanistan shots seem a bit unbelievable but its only for a short time that you have to jump into the warfare of the sands. The conflicts and characters develop as the film progresses and you learn that there is a serious side to the film. The dark humor becomes more real and you’re forced to realize situations like this happen, the terrorists have families and faces, they have feelings and emotions just like us. It’s not so much a sympathy film as it is a humorously dark look into what exactly terrorism means outside of our own perspectives. And I applaud that outlook. This film accomplishes its comedic elements and also delivers a message at the same time. Impressed as I was, this movie does deserve all the critical acclaim it got. Best film of 2010? You got it. A definite 9.7 out of 10.

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Harsh Times: Get Some Christian Bale

In one of my favorite Christian Bale films, Bale plays a hardened soldier newly returned to South Central Los Angeles. With new promising jobs for himself on the horizon, Jim Davis (Bale) has his feet in two camps. In one, Davis is a well-to-do yet slightly skewed veteran soldier that wants to bring his loving Mexican girlfriend to the U.S. and marry her. In the other, Davis has returned to his old haunts around the streets of L.A., drinking and living the life of a hoodrat. Cruising around with his friend Mike Alonzo (Freddy Rodriguez), attempting to right their lives but always falling short.

Jim Davis, although its not explicitly stated, suffers from Post-traumatic Stress Disorder. After serving over in the Middle East, Davis suffers from bouts of extreme anger and unquenchable violence. This get him in some trouble throughout the film. In a manner of speaking, Davis becomes his own undoing, turning into a destructive time bomb ready to explode at any moment, hurting those he cares about. As an outsider viewing this, Alonzo (Rodriguez) is a spectator to the bomb

Two thugs, cruisin’ to get their. Rodriguez is creepin’ a bit hard on Bale though…

show. Both serve as peer pressure for the other, although, in the end, Davis seems to want to remain in his in between life much longer than Alonzo does.

The film starts with a bit of iffy war footage of Christian Bale running around in trenches, letting his gun go at will and laying waste to the terrorists. This is juxtaposed to the waking fear that he feels when he wakes up in the squalor of his girlfriend’s poverty in Mexico. Marta (Tammy Trull) is a wonderfully devoted character who is only a product of the environment around her. She makes the best of what she has and loves Davis dearly. Jim loves her too, and surprisingly never cheats on her. In this movie, Spanish is the language of love, spoken competently by Bale in this film, as if he picked it up after falling in love with Marta. The language barriers and connections in this film between the white and Latino characters is one I applaud in its representation in the film.

The hardened stare of a killer.

I was also impressed with Freddy Rodriguez’s performance in this film as well. Not seeing him in much other than the Grindhouse films and Six Feet Under. His voice is more recognizable than his acting, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, because he ran his mouth in this film. Sylvia, played by Eva Longoria, was just thoroughly average in this film, as she usually is. (I did surprisingly like her in Over My Dead Body… if that’s what it’s called). Terry Crews, star of The Longest Yard and The Expendables, made a surprise appearance as a semi-believable street thug, providing some of the only comedy in the film. And last but not least, J.K. Simmons made an appearance as a Homeland Security agent looking to hire Davis. He’s always believable as authority figures in his films.

In this film comes a lot of the breakdown of what happens to someone who suffers through war. It may not appear during their service as in this film, but it may occur anytime after, triggered by any number of things. For Davis, I felt it was his return to a society that was just as cruel as the conditions he felt in

Look everyone, it’s the Old Spice Guy!

war times that did it for him. He came back to more of what he knew, and treated it like the warring sands of the Middle East. And what impressed me more with David Ayer’s writing and directing, is that he based these characters on real people from his experience in South L.A. This brought a new level to Christian Bale’s acting and the way in which his character was formulated.

Bale and Rodriguez getting the direction they need from Ayers.

Let me say again how impressed I was with Christian Bale’s acting in this film. As one of my favorite films of his, Christian Bale does nothing less than attempt and succeed at an American accent. Although I felt that the lingo used in this film was a bit over the top, when it was used, it was more than likely appropriate. With some tricks of the trade thrown in there and some real mean streets shizz, it wasn’t a stretch to believe the events of the film. But it just goes to show that the corruption of the streets can easily lead to a tragedy. And the way that Christian Bale portrays that breakdown of a character, up to the tears and fear, its a commendable performance. Not to mention how frightening Christian Bale becomes when he’s serious. I wouldn’t wanna deal with him in a dark alley.

So with his performance, some true to the streets gang banging, and the whites vs. the latinos really

Jim Davis, rollin’ hard to get his.

adds a lot to a well written story. The psychological thriller elements of the film are well delivered and I can connect things I’ve witnessed in my life to the events onscreen. On a touchy subject like the recent tours of duty over in Iraq and Afghanistan, this movie touches just the right spots with aplomb. I’ll give this one, as should be expected, a decent 84. out of 10.


Brothers (2009)

So through this movie, it has come to my attention that Tobey Maguire is a good actor. Don’t get me wrong, the Spider-Man movies are fantastic. SM3 was a little off, but Sam Raimi is an amazing director, actually my favorite. Watch the Evil Dead movies and you’ll know why. But it is because of the movie Brothers that I have come to see Tobey Maguire as a respectable and capable actor.

So, this movie is about two brothers. Obviously, thus, the plural. One brother Sam Cahill (Tobey Maguire) is a respected captain in the United States Marines, and is about to deploy on his fourth tour over in Afghanistan. His brother Tommy (Jake Gyllenhall) was just released from prison a short time before Sam heads overseas. This leaves Sam’s wife, Grace (Natalie Portman) to tend to her children and keep her spirits up. Of course this can’t be the whole movie, something bad has to happen.

This comes in the form of Sam “dying.” From here Grace must deal with the pressures of life on top of the loss of her husband. And Tommy is there to pick up the pieces. But that’s not all. And I need not say anymore to ruin it.

The acting, I must say, made the movie. Good cinematography that displayed the emotions of the characters, but it really all came together in the characters in the Cahill family. Tobey Maguire was fantastic, definitely worthy of the Golden Globe he was nominated for. His performance towards the end really speaks to the brutality of war and torture and what death and violence can do to a person. Jake Gyllenhall’s performance brought the sensitive side to the movie, in complete opposition of his brother. Natalie Portman (my favorite actress, crush since Star Wars) is fantastic and really plays a mother in grief and distress well. But I’m gonna tell you who stole the movie.

Bailee Madison, Sam Cahill’s oldest daughter was a fantastic actress in this movie. (And she’s actually in a new horror movie I am interested in seeing, Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark) Her performance alone was the dramatic and plot lynchpin of the entire film. When she cried because she lost the father she knew and loved, I cried too. Her anger and defiance of her father, at such a young age, and to understand what happened, was breathtaking. Along with this, the role change at the end of the movie that’s shown is worth watching. Great acting, shoddy visual work that was barely noticed, and great family dynamic brought this movie together to make for a great film about family and what it means. Definitely an 8.8 out of 10.

Here’s a clip from the movie and interview with Tobey Maguire for a sense of just what his role is and how he portrays the character he does.