British satirist Christopher Morris has never held back with his mercilessly dark, socially biting humor. His most recent film, “The Day Shall Come,” a brutally, bitterly funny treatise on race and law enforcement in America, is no exception.
“Based on a hundred true stories,” in this fable of a naive radical and the scheming FBI agents who seek to groom him into a terrorist for their own political gains, no one is safe from Morris’ sharply skewering eye. He’s one of our most unflinchingly honest filmmakers, his work a deeply necessary yet bracing medicine.
Morris got his start working with “Veep” creator Armando Iannucci, and it’s clear they are inextricably intertwined in sharing their absurdly black world views and ear for lacerating dialogue.
Anna Kendrick costars as ambitious young FBI agent Kendra Glack, clawing her way up the ladder in the Miami bureau while she tries to throw her rival Stevie (Adam David Thompson) off it. Her verbal agility with the vulgar, rapid-fire patter demonstrates it was a missed opportunity Kendrick never appeared on “Veep.”
Hoping to make a big, career-making terrorism arrest, Kendra turns her sights to Facebook Live, where she finds Moses Shabazz (Marchant Davis) preaching anti-government rhetoric to an audience of four (three of which are his family members). Looking for an easy coup after a botched beach party bombing, the FBI believe they can deliver “the next 9/11” with Moses, before they realize Moses is vehemently anti-gun.
Davis provides an utterly riveting performance in his first major film role. Davis plays Moses with a wide-eyed innocence and blind determination. Moses has strong beliefs about his mission in life, which he received through a message from a duck. He believes in the liberation of the black man through the eradication of guns and is dedicated to his “farm.” But broke and on the verge of losing his ramshackle rented property, Moses is susceptible to the offer of financing he receives from an enterprising ISIL leader sent his way (via FBI informant), though he’s conflicted about the violence. Perhaps they can paint the guns white and build a fence?
This is only the tip of the iceberg of Moses’ (literal) insanity. He wears a shower curtain cape and a tri-corner hat; he thinks his horse talks to him and tries to inform, on himself, to the FBI. Trying to save face at work, Kendra tosses higher and higher stakes terror plots at Moses involving nukes and Nazis, while the bureau wraps themselves into logistical knots trying to pin down the poor, clueless target.
Although much of the film’s humor comes from Moses’ bumbling mishaps and misunderstandings, film creator Morris reserves his ire for the heartless FBI agents, who conjure up terror plots and unwitting terrorists to perform stopping them, in self-serving attempts to burnish their own reputations.
The ever-present D.A. (Michael Braun), who is constantly announcing whether or not he has the grounds to charge as the plot progresses, verbalizes the logical and legal loopholes the state runs through in the performance of their own job, while imprisoning and entrapping innocent (black) civilians along the way without a care for the human collateral damage.
Like Morris’ 2010 film “Four Lions,” “The Day Shall Come” is a whirlwind of emotions: You’ll laugh until you think you might cry, but you’ll probably just end up righteously angry.