Director: Chris Morris
Talent: Anna Kendrick, Marchánt Davis, Danielle Brooks, Denis O’Hare
Release: 11 October
“Are you ready to see the accidental dominance of the white race overthrown?”
Marchánt Davis stars as Moses, the leader of a small-time cult in Miami, in Chris Morris’ first film since Four Lions in 2010.
The day has come – Chris Morris has graced us with his second feature film. Nine years after Four Lions, Morris brings us The Day Shall Come, a satirical black comedy thriller centred around the frantic efforts of the FBI to neutralise terrorist cells. ‘Based on a hundred true stories’ sprawled across the screen as an introduction, Morris immediately establishes the film as more than a comedic romp. The Day Shall Come straddles two stories: that of Moses and his army of four harmlessly deluded black jihads who protest the gentrification of black neighbourhoods and pray to Allah and Black Santa alike; and that of the FBI’s counterterrorism squad, who poke and prod potential threats hoping to pre-empt (or incite) attacks.
Moses (Marchánt Davis) and his followers peacefully await Allah’s destruction of the ‘cranes of the gentrifiers’ that dominate Miami. Meanwhile, the FBI flail blindly, hoping to land upon a real terrorist threat. Their primary motive? Not to keep their people from harm, but to look like they are doing so. Agent Kendra Glack (Anna Kendrick) unearths Moses’s small-time cult, and plants undercover criminals who lead Moses and his flock further and further astray, tempting them with money, guns, and nuclear materials. It’s farcical – this desperate attempt of the FBI to provoke and radicalise Moses, but try as he might, he just can’t seem to extricate himself from their schemes.
With a star-studded cast – Anna Kendrick, Danielle Brooks, Denis O’Hare – the acting is pretty solid. But it’s breakout actor Marchánt Davis who brings a touch of heart to the film, making Moses a sympathetic character rather than just a misguided believer. But into Morris’s forte: comedy. Over those 90 minutes, Morris thrusts an abundance of jokes on his viewers. A barrage of witty insults, farcical situations, and wacky absurdism roll in, the next joke beginning before the dust has settled on the previous. Embarrassingly though, the majority of these jokes miss the mark. You practically have to scrape some of them off the soles of your shoes, they fall so flat. Yes, there were a few comical moments, the odd scatter of laughter about the room, but the comedy was largely ineffectual.
Morris has come a long way since Four Lions with its pittance of a production budget, but a bigger budget does not a better movie make. The Day Shall Come lives in the shadow of its predecessor. But let’s face it: in the current social and political climate there was no way Morris could make another Four Lions. Its genius was in its fearlessness, its shock value and its unguarded irreverence. But today nothing’s shocking. Not when you’re following Trump on Twitter. Shock no longer carries the same value. We’ve seen it all before. Despite its shortcomings, The Day Shall Come marks an interesting move away from comedy at the expense of terrorists, towards comedy at the expense of those who are expected to defend us against terrorists. Morris hones in on manipulative counterterrorism tactics and the questionable morality of deliberately inciting groups to violence. He probes us to look at those who claim to protect us and ask ourselves: do they make us feel safe because they disarm real threats, or because we are desperate to believe they do?
Words: Courtney Byrne
Illustration: Jacky Sheridan