The Day Shall Come

Review by Adam Woodward @AWLies

Directed by

Chris Morris

Starring

Anna Kendrick Denis O'Hare Marchánt Davis

Anticipation.

Welcome back, Chris – it’s been far too long.

Enjoyment.

Not as astute or spiky as Four Lions.

In Retrospect.

This Veep-lite satire doesn’t quite nail its target.

Chris Morris exposes the “dark farce” at the heart of US homeland security in this blunt political satire.

When Chris Morris unveiled his incendiary debut feature Four Lions in 2010, the British news media were predictably split. “Fury of 7/7 relatives at suicide bomber comedy,” screamed the Daily Mail. “Four Lions shows human face of terrorism,” opined the Guardian. Which presumably is exactly the kind of reaction Morris had been hoping for.

Perhaps the most damning thing you could say about his long-awaited follow-up is that it’s unlikely to generate similarly polarised headlines. Not because Morris has mellowed; his schtick simply doesn’t feel as incisive, provocative or urgent as it once did.

A lot has changed in the near-decade since Four Lions was released. The extended live-action reenactment of ‘Man Getting Hit By Football’ that is Brexit, coupled with the rise of Trumpism, has led many to proclaim the death of political satire (it’s harder to be funny when the absurd has been normalised). So where does that leave a cage-rattling humourist like Morris?

This is someone who, along with his The Day Today co-creator Armando Iannucci, effectively invented the concept of ‘fake news’ 25 years before it passed into common parlance. Does he still have a place in this mixed-up post-truth world? And more pressingly, is anyone still listening?

On the evidence of The Day Shall Come, the jury’s out, although Morris did appear to address that first question in a director’s statement released in conjunction with the film’s trailer. In it, Morris describes the routine FBI practice of fabricating domestic terror threats by identifying easy ‘targets’ and encouraging them, usually through a financial incentive, to break the law, whereupon they are duly arrested and put away for a very long time.

With a reported conviction rate of 98 per cent, it turns out that creating a terrorist is a much safer bet than finding a real one. Drawing from “a hundred true stories”, Morris sets about exposing this shady homeland security operation in characteristically pithy fashion.

Much like the have-a-go fundamentalists of Four Lions, the greatest danger posed by Marchánt Davis’ cash-strapped preacher, Moses, is to himself. With his wife Venus (Danielle Brooks), Moses runs a small mission in the Miami projects, teaching the gospel of Haitian revolutionary Toussaint Louverture to local youths.

Despite dressing like a ghettoised 18th century general and riding around on a horse, Moses is not as out of step with the modern world as he first appears. For instance, he espouses the virtues of faith, self-empowerment and organic farming through Facebook Live, which brings him to the attention of Anna Kendrick’s go- getting Fed, Kendra.

The ensuing game of cat-and-mouse is farcical to say the least, with Morris and his screenwriting partner Jesse Armstrong scoring plenty of cheap laughs at the expense of both sides, who take it in turns to outwit one another (often unwittingly). It’s a strange film that’s never short of surprises, but as with Morris’ best work, this subject might have been better served by a TV mockumentary.

Published 7 Oct 2019

Tags: Chris Morris Marchánt Davis

Anticipation.

Welcome back, Chris – it’s been far too long.

Enjoyment.

Not as astute or spiky as Four Lions.

In Retrospect.

This Veep-lite satire doesn’t quite nail its target.

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