independent

Saturday 16 November 2019

Barbed satire on war on terror fails to pack comic punch

Film review: The Day Shall Come (15), 6.5/10

Marchant Davis as Moses Al Shabaz in The Day Shall Come
Marchant Davis as Moses Al Shabaz in The Day Shall Come

The war against terror is conducted by career-driven buffoons in director Chris Morris's barbed satire.

Supposedly 'based on a hundred true stories', The Day Shall Come shares a few strands of creative DNA with Morris's directorial debut, Four Lions, and transplants the hunt for radicals and terrorists to the sun-baked beaches of Miami.

The script, co-written by Jesse Armstrong, amuses and unsettles, opening with a hilarious set-piece involving one potential target, who fails to detonate a fake bomb because he secretly suffers from pentaphobia and the device's activation code is riddled with the number five.

Ludicrousness and uncomfortable plausibility walk side by side in Morris's picture, which paints US law enforcement as a circus of clowns willing to abuse the system to prevent a repeat of September 11, even if that means putting innocent men and women behind bars.

Dialogue bares its teeth.

One agent casually explains that Muslims are fair targets in the current climate but African-Americans are not because, 'We're down with brown but black is whack'.

However, polished words seldom cut to the bone or draw blood.

Miami-based preacher Moses Al Shabaz (Marchant Davis) presides over the ramshackle Star Of Six community farm and mission.

This well-intentioned movement hopes to affect lasting change for poor people in the community 'without the gun weapon'.

Moses received his call to arms when God chose to speak to him through a duck.

The congregation includes his wife Venus (Danielle Brooks), their daughter Rosa (Calah Lane) and three loyal lieutenants: Farmer Afrika (Andrel McPherson), Farmer Evangeliste (Curtiss Cook Jr) and Farmer X (Malcolm M Mays), so-called because he loves the X-Wing fighters in Star Wars, not because of a deep spiritual affinity with human rights activist Malcolm X.

Undercover FBI operative Reza (Kayvan Novak) brokers the sale of AK47 assault rifles to pacifist Moses, who intends to paint the weapons white and use them as fence post for the mission compound.

The deal brings the Star Of Six to the attention of Agent Kendra Glack (Anna Kendrick) at the FBIs anti-terrorism unit in Miami, led by station chief Andy Mudd (Denis O'Hare).

He sanctions a sting operation involving FBI informant Nura (Pej Vahdat), who will pose as a wealthy sheikh and agree to supply Moses with fake nuclear warheads as proof of the mission's dark intentions.

The Day Shall Come benefits from a strong lead performance from Davis and appealing spiky support courtesy of Kendrick as a woman drowning in a sea of testosterone.

Laughs are distributed evenly across the 88 minutes but the sharpness of the writing is often blunted by slapstick and characters, who veer from whip-smart and painfully deluded to cartoonish.

Those Four Lions from 2010 have been declawed.

Wexford People

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