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The Day Shall Come review – Homeland Security satire lacks bite | reviews, news & interviews

The Day Shall Come review – Homeland Security satire lacks bite

The Day Shall Come review – Homeland Security satire lacks bite

Chris Morris' new comedy highlights the absurdity of the War on Terror

Set up for a fall: Marchánt Davis in 'The Day Shall Come'

A new film by Chris Morris ought to be an event. The agent provocateur of Brass Eye infamy has tended to rustle feathers and spark debate whatever he does. His last film, Four Lions, dared to find comedy in Islamic terrorism in 2010, when so many wounds were still so fresh. 

But that was almost a decade ago, and the signs are that Morris is losing his edge, while also in dire need of a new topic. The Day Shall Come again has terrorism as its subject, and moving countries and targets doesn’t overcome the sense of this being old ground. 

The starting point is the FBI’s dodgy practice of faking terrorist threats, with a number of reported cases in which the bureau has used stings to entrap persons of interest, who by all accounts aren’t terrorists at all. If true, it’s not just morally reprehensible, but a horrendously dumb use of resources. Which is the red rag to Morris’s bull.

The setting is Florida, where African American, self-styled preacher Moses Al Shabaz (Marchánt Davis) runs the Sun of Six community farm and mission, with the aim of conducting a ‘Black Jihad’ that will overthrow the government. He has a mere handful of eager but dim followers, a non-violent agenda, and his sensible wife Venus (Danielle Brooks) to keep them from doing anything seriously stupid. Moses is harmless and kind, if also prone to delusion; he claims that God has spoken to him through a duck. 

Meanwhile, with pressure from Homeland Security, local FBI boss Andy Mudd (Denis O’Hare) is desperate to prove that he is protecting Miami from terrorists, whether they’re legitimate or not; thrusting agent Kendra (Anna Kendrick, pictured, with O'Hare far left) is happy to oblige, by offering up Moses. All she has to do is coax him to break the law. She enlists an informer to pose as an Isis terrorist with a large wad of cash, to suck him in. 

While this may sound like satire, Morris is using the same comic mode as in Four Lions, namely off-the-wall dialogue and slapstick. It’s at its best when focussed on Davis’s lovely comic turn and his character’s ability to deflect all attempts to make him turn bad, but goes horribly flat whenever the camera is turned on the Feds, whose competitive banter is tiresomely inane. It’s telling that such a seasoned comedian as Anna Kendrick looks desperately ill at ease. 

This has none of the really challenging barbs of Morris’s best work. And it lacks the shards of violence and tragedy that kept Four Lions real. The primary joke cum accusation, that the FBI and the cops are more crazy than Moses and infinitely more criminal, is a powerful one; but the film itself feels terribly lame. 

It’s telling that such a seasoned comedienne as Anna Kendrick looks desperately ill at ease

rating

Editor Rating: 
2
Average: 2 (1 vote)

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