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A farce too far in The Day Shall Come

10 October, 2019 — By Dan Carrier

Marchánt Davis in The Day Shall Come

THE DAY SHALL COME
Directed by Chris Morris
Certificate 12a
☆☆

GREASY pole-climbing government agents looking for a big score to show they are doing their jobs keeping America safe, and Supreme Being-fearing renegades fighting The Man are pitted against each other in this easy-target comedy by Chris Morris.

Morris, who has earned himself a special seat at satire’s table, is the director whose comedy ignores boundaries and therefore is apparently cutting-edge cinema. Yet it feels like we’ve been there, done that: in his long-awaited feature (his last, Four Lions, came out in 2010) he offers no new insight nor busts the joke-o-meter with his set pieces.

The Day Shall Come is set in a heavily developed Miami, where we meet Moses (Marchánt Davis), a preacher without a congregation who spouts David Icke-like theories.
Apparently based on “100 true stories”, Moses runs the “Star Of Six” farm in a run-down neighbourhood with his wife and children. He keeps chickens, fights criminality and dreams of “freedom” for his followers…

Meanwhile, the FBI are cooking up plots to give them a higher conviction rate, helping domestic terrorists get a foot on the ladder before nicking them. They identify Moses and his family, who are looking for funding to see off their landlord and are therefore ready to accept the help of an agent provocateur, as potential numbers on their conviction score card.

When a store keeper who is an FBI informant offers him financial help, he descends into a murky world where it is easier for security forces to create their own domestic terror groups instead of seeking out real threats.

Morris draws on various uncomfortable realities and then twists them to suit his comic agenda – like Jon Ronson’s The Men Who Stare At Goats, he has found a deep mine to dig into in terms of the self-serving behaviour of America’s defence establishment.

Moses is a revolutionary with some real and imagined targets – the gentrification of his neighbourhood, the oppression of people of colour – and then Morris throws some curve balls by making Moses suffer from delusions (for example, a running joke about how dinosaurs are due to come to the rescue of the impoverished).

The FBI characters go along a well-worn groove, led by Anna Kendricks, toing and froing with the in-office banter. It’s like they are singing from a Donald Rumsfeld song sheet that we’ve seen before. And while you feel inclined to root for Moses and his group, they are dealt with an insensitivity that is the natural follow-up to his crass Four Lions film that tried to make a joke of British-born terrorists.

This is no Dr Strangelove, though if you liked Brass Eye and The Day Today – two shows by Morris that won extravagant plaudits for what they really were – this film scratches messy ticks in various must-do boxes to show the absurdity of the worlds they inhabit. But as a political satire, it feels neither insightful nor funny.

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