Chris Morris, Britain’s master satirist and the creative genius behind The Day Today and Brass Eye, returns with his second feature film as writer-director. Set in Florida, The Day Shall Come has echoes of his earlier film, 2011’s Four Lions, which dealt with a group of bungling British jihadists. Flipping the perspective, here we are looking at terrorism through the warped lens of the intelligence community.
As the poster and the opening title card reads, The Day Shall Come is “based on a hundred true stories”, and you can believe it – Morris is nothing if not fastidious in his research into post-9/11 FBI tactics, often so ludicrous they fall into the ‘truth is stranger than fiction’ category, as the Bureau looks to lure out anti-American revolutionaries in any way possible.
Here, the focus is Moses Al Shabaz (Marchánt Davis), the leader of a threadbare group called Star of Six. Moses wants to save African-American communities, even banning guns from his group. Yet then he falls in the crosshairs of the FBI, as the Bureau attempts to entrap him via a snitch (Kayvan Novak) and turn him into an arms dealer.
While it’s full of Morris’ trademark lunacy, the film isn’t quite on the knife-edge that his Brass Eye-era work was, feeling perhaps too close to Four Lions territory. Still, Moses remains a fascinating character – a mentally troubled figure who believes that God and Satan talk to him through a duck. Making his big screen debut, Davis is a charismatic presence, and a sympathetic one when needed.
Co-starring Anna Kendrick, who plays one of the more sane FBI agents on the ground, Morris co-scripted with Jesse Armstrong, who has arguably made more of an impact than Morris this past decade, with such seminal TV shows as Peep Show, Succession, The Thick of It, Veep and Fresh Meat all on his CV.
Despite this evident pedigree, it’s not on a par with classic Morris, though he unquestionably remains the ideal figure to hardwire his brain into the mainframe and make sense of an increasingly crazy world. And while the satire is blunted at times, any new Chris Morris project is a reason to sit up and take notice.
The Day Shall Come opens on 11 October. For more details, visit here.
1. All images stills from The Day Shall Come.