Thursday, October 10, 2019

The Day Shall Come – satirical critique of the faux war against terrorism on US soil (QFT from 11 October)

Chris Morris’ latest dark satirical film examines the vicious circle of vulnerable people being radicalised by unsound informers and cavalier agents of the state, only to be arrested under terrorism charges and sentenced to long prison terms. He asks how much of the war against terrorism on US soil is fuelled by the need for supposed success and driven by perverted logic.

The Day Shall Come follows the delusional leader of a four-man cult in Miami – the ‘Star of Six Community Farm and Mission’ – longing for the day that the cranes of gentrifiers will fall and judgement will come down on white Europeans.

Moses (played by Marchánt Davis) wears a tricorn hat and a cloak made out of shower curtain. He wants a horse to sit on, as every general needs one. He believes that the CIA still have some dinosaurs in reserve, and one of his followers carries a horn to summon them. It’s a rare mix of religion, nationalism, class divides and lunacy … and Davis carries the role perfectly.

This miniature militia are relatively pacifist, wielding swords, a toy crossbow and a lightsabre, shunning weapons like guns. But the local FBI think that this “lone wolf” could be lured into taking their weapons which would lead to arrests and promotion. The Fed’s obsession with armaments is underscored by the nerf guns they accurately fire across the office at each other. Yet the Star of Six are less about turning swords into ploughshares, and more turning guns into fenceposts.

An opening credit states that the film is “based on a hundred true stories”. Chris Morris has researched this dubious trend of law enforcement for ten years. His last film, Four Lions, quite brilliantly mocked fanciful Islamic jihadists operating in the UK. The Day Shall Come is a lot less flippant, though still full of insulting office banter and surreal decision-making. But it strikes a much more serious tone than some of his previous work.

At times, The Day Shall Come is as much an attack on machismo behaviour and misogyny as it is a critique of honeytrap operations. Moses’ wife Venus (Danielle Brooks) is the first to call out the unanticipated offer of assistance as “you’re being played”, while junior FBI agent Kendra (Anna Kendrick) is the only person in her cranky field office to view Moses as delusional. Yet Kendra soon finds herself under pressure to cast a fresh hook at the Star of Six to reel them into the FBI’s net.

This blurry flip in Kendra’s behaviour is poorly signposted by Morris, though it seems entirely consistent with the ghastly shenanigans of her peers. Her ‘least worst option’ action in the tense final scene is face-saving for her, and the spiralling out of control agencies, yet continues to dump on their vulnerable targets.

Running for a relatively short 87 minutes, The Day Shall Come is about perpetrators carrying guns, bankrolling potential felons as informers, grooming duped fools, and arresting the innocent victims of state-sponsored false-flag crime. It’s unlikely to be popular with resolute supporters of the US administration who will see its critique as disloyal and treasonous. It’s also not laugh out loud funny enough to become a word of mouth box-office hit. Yet it is intelligent, well-researched, hard-hitting and rewarding to watch.

The Day Shall Come is released in UK and Irish cinemas including Queen’s Film Theatre from Friday 11 October.

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