Film Review: The Day Shall Come

Film Review: The Day Shall Come

I was lucky enough to see a very early press screening of the new Chris Morris film The Day Shall Come. At the time I enjoyed it but couldn't help feeling that it didn't strike the same chord in me as Four Lions. That film seemed to have everything, most notably a glorious sense of absurdity about modern terrorism. There was something very English about Four Lions which made it way more relatable than The Day Shall Come, which also looks at the grass roots war on terror but is set in Florida.

And yet somehow The Day Shall Come has stayed with me and grown in my estimation. Maybe because in many ways, although it is also a comedy, it is more chilling and hard-hitting that Four Lions. Morris has drawn on a lot of research to present a terrifying satirical portrayal of national security in America. I don't how how close to the truth it is, but if there is any truth in it at all it is pretty uncomfortable.

Moses Al Shabaz, played by Marchánt Davis (pictured) is the hapless, hopeless main subject of the film. He runs what must be the smallest, poorly funded terrorist cell in the USA and is clearly either naive or suffering from mental health issues or both. Yet when the FBI picks up on his activities rather than ignore him or shut him down they seem to be encouraging him to think big so that they can capture him and then claim to have landed a major scalp.

It is a film with a number of memorably farcical set-piece scenes as Al Shabaz tried to raise money for his crackpot schemes. He goes to a bank to get funding, he meets with another group (cameo from comic Jim Gaffigan) who turn out to be not quite what they seem. He wants to fight for the cause he believes in, but is destined to be caught in the political crossfire of homeland security and end up as the fall guy. 

The script, by Morris and Jesse Armstrong (do please watch his Succession on Sky Atlantic, it really is the best thing) crackles along. The funniest lines are probably during the FBI meetings where agent Kendra Glack (Anna Kendrick) is trying to make her mark. There's an echo or The Thick of It and Veep (and also Succession) in the way everyone seems able to come up with the wittiest most scabrous put-downs. If only real office banter was as cutting as this.

Maybe Morris is getting more serious as he gets older or maybe we live in more serious times, but there are less laughs here than in Four Lions. Kayvan Novak reappears here donning a disguise and going undercover, but I was longing for some broader comedy alongside the cerebral satire. But Four Lions was nearly a decade ago and I guess we live in different times now. Do stay to the very end to see some disturbing facts that underline that maybe the story you've just watched isn't as absurd as it seems. 

The Day Shall Come is released in the UK on October 11.

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