The Day Shall Come Review
The truth is stranger than fiction in Chris Morris’ first film since 2010’s Four Lions. The case of an ‘army’ of four peaceful, but slightly delusional, black men and women who were coaxed into committing terrorist acts by the FBI to meet a quota sounds like the work of paranoid fiction. Except, despite its ludicrous premise, The Day Shall Come is an amalgamation of hundreds of real-world cases where people of colour have been set up by federal agencies in order to demonstrate the ‘bad guys’ are still being locked away.
Moses (Marchánt Davis) is the head of a small, peaceful sect called the Star of Six. They have lofty ambitions, but without being able to pay the rent for their city farm, there’s little chance of those goals ever being met. Moses is married to Venus (Danielle Brooks) and is a father-of-one, while also trying to encourage young men to leave the streets behind to lead a more positive way of life.
Morris splits the time spent with Moses and his group by showing us the clowns at work in the FBI. Kendra (Anna Kendrick) wants to climb the career ladder and after another calamitous take down of a non-terrorist, she convinces her boss Andy (Denis O’Hare) that Moses is the next Bin Laden who will become the crowning glory of his career. Moses may believe he can talk to animals (when not taking his pills) and possesses the ability to bend matter with his mind, but the only ones capable of causing any real harm are the idiots carrying government-issued badges and guns.
The Day Shall Come is essentially a takedown of the inherent racism that fuels government departments and their false War on Terror. As one senior police officer screams during a pivotal showdown: “Unarmed white man, unarmed black man – which one is more likely to have the gun?” While on the surface there appear to be similarities with Four Lions, this is less about foolish masculinity, and more about the way society is tricked into believing the people with the intel and resources have it all under control.
Incompetence is rife within Kendra’s team at all levels, just as much as their willingness to pass the buck and pin the blame on whichever victim happens to pop up in their database. Tellingly, aside from Moses and his close knit crew, the only other non-white characters we see are being coerced by the FBI into building their case (and it’s good to see Kayvan Novak again). Morris pulls out plenty of laughs from their self-centred buffoonery, but there is also real anger simmering away underneath.
Marchánt Davis is something of a find by Morris, and was only six months out of acting school when he was cast as the lead. He gives Moses just the right dose of tragedy and innocence the character needs because there’s only ever one way his story is going to end. As first performances go, this is mightily impressive and he’s one to keep an eye on in the coming years. Anna Kendrick doesn’t have tons of screen time and is offered some empathy, and while Morris is trying to offer a sense of humanity to the other side, it does come across as a little soft-handed.
Even though his output is ridiculously low, Morris is kept to high standards thanks to the genius of TV series like Brass Eye and comedy classics like Four Lions. Maybe it’s rust, or simply the passing of time blunting his sharpness, but The Day Shall Come is a step down from the high bar he has previously set. There are perhaps as many jokes that don’t land as those that do, but the sobering finale is good way of reminding us that any humour drilled from this subject can only go on for so long.
The Day Shall Come opens nationwide in UK cinemas on October 11.
The Day Shall Come (2019)
Dir: Christopher Morris | Cast: Anna Kendrick, Denis O'Hare, Jim Gaffigan, Kayvan Novak | Writers: Christopher Morris, Jesse Armstrong, Sean Gray (additional material by), Tony Roche (additional material by)