Right from the film’s opening text stating that this film is “based on a hundred true stories”, Chris Morris’ bitterly dark comedy The Day Shall Come never shies away from making a mockery out of reality. Having already tested his audience’s sympathetic limits with his first feature, 2010’s suicide bomber farce Four Lions, it should really come as no surprise that this sophomore effort is similarly itching to simultaneously irk and entertain the masses.
Terrorism is the main subject at hand here, though more specifically it’s terrorism supported by the U.S. government. Hungry FBI agent Kendra Glack (the always delightful Anna Kendrick) is the unwilling mastermind behind it all, an ambitious little firecracker of an employee who wants to make a name for herself by preventing “the next 9/11”. So why not create said event so that you can stop it yourself?
It’s the type of situation that almost seems too preposterous, though when the film introduces this particular scheme we’ve already witnessed a similar set-up where an undercover informant has to practically nurse a would-be mass bomber through the should-be simple task of dialling a phone that’s been designed to appear as a mobile detonator of sorts; safe to say the FBI is unprepared for a terrorist to be phobic of the number 5, a digit that runs rampant through the faux phone number they have been provided.
The incompetence of the FBI gets a lot of quality mileage throughout Morris’ script (remnants of the satirical presidential program Veep, which Morris contributed to, is evident) but it’s when the film focuses on Kendra’s target – a mentally unstable though completely endearing “prophet” – that the satirical and the sympathetic merge. Said target is Moses Al Shabaz (newcomer Marchant Davis, an absolute gem), a part-dreamer, part-conman, part revolutionary hopeful, who appears to be actively rejecting the gentrification of his city, Miami.
Whilst his character’s mental illness is never specified, Davis assures that he’s consistently playing a character we’re always on board with. He’s harmless, ambitious even, and his sanity and his intelligence are often balancing in equal measure to assure that the outlandish situation he finds himself in is somehow alarmingly plausible.
When The Day Shall Come arrives at its ultimate junction between Moses and Kendra (both equally confused) and their respective support – his loyal followers (which includes his devoted wife, Orange is the New Black‘s Danielle Brooks) and her man-strong FBI partners (led by a wonderfully surfeited Denis O’Hare) – it culminates in a manner that maintains the oddball temperament it’s held strong throughout the 88 minute running time whilst never adhering to the sensibility that all films have to end on a satisfying note. As ridiculous as the film proves to be, Morris is always aware that truth is stranger than fiction, and The Day Shall Come revels in that mentality with a dark glee.
The Day Shall Come (18+) is screening as part of this year’s Brisbane International Film Festival (October 3rd – 13th 2019). For information and session times click here.