It is my opinion that the principal aim of a film should be to entertain the viewer; however, it is also the job of a film, occasionally, to educate. To me, Film is at its best when it’s holding a mirror up to society and showing us its darkest recesses. That’s why films like Taxi Driver, and more recently Joker, hit home the way they do, because the world is recognisably grim.
So, Chris Morris then. I must admit to not particularly being an aficionado of his work; I’ve caught bits of Brass Eye when it is repeated, and I know of his ability to stir up controversy, which to me shows that whatever you’re doing is working, but he has a penchant for taking on taboo subjects head on.
This isn’t his first attempt at satirising terrorism. In fact his previous film revolves around a group of hapless wannabe-Jihadists from Britain, now his lenses are pointed squarely at our rowdier cousins from across the Atlantic, and looking at the issue with a fresh perspective.
In the interest of national security; the FBI are busy making their own terrorists by moulding disillusioned people with their own contacts. After another successful sting, their focus becomes Moses Al Shabaz, a hapless and delusional preacher desperate to keep his community farm afloat.
It is easy to make a film where the main threat is a terrorist; it is many measures difficult to make the main threat the people catching terrorists, but I’ll be damned if Chris Morris doesn’t achieve that.
I use the phrase ‘catching terrorists’ very loosely, as the FBI presented for us here are merely framing people who they believe to be dangerous, but who are otherwise ineffectual. Moses is no more a terrorist in this film than the biblical Moses was.
Depending on your viewpoint, it is either incredibly brave to satirise the creation of terrorists, or incredibly stupid, but Morris is no new hand with a baseless agenda, the story told here is one that is all to familiar in real life, wherein undesirable faces are merely moulded to fit the bill of a terrorist, rather than actually being a terrorist.
While this sounds incredibly heavy-handed, it is balanced nicely by portraying Moses, a character who claims he wants ‘Black Jihad’ but is appalled at the thought of killing anyone, as a bumbling moron who has conversations with his horse, he’s the butt of the joke, but he’s also somewhat sympathetic. Underneath the misguided talk of a great ‘judgement day’ is a man who really only wants to keep his farm afloat.
This film doesn’t so much skirt round these delicate issues as meet them head-on with a steam locomotive, the FBI are shown to be calculated vultures, more intent on making terrorists than actually catching them, bar one who genuinely wants to help; and the ‘black militants’ presented for us are nothing more than assorted weirdos whose excel uses include walking like ducks.
For balancing all of these elements with an under-current of pitch-Black satirical humour, I think The Day Shall Come should be applauded, and what really sealed it for me was an incredibly affecting ending, one that is somewhat unexpected, and will make you think twice about the system portrayed here, it’s a rare moment of emotion in a film that is otherwise heavy on political satire, and what’s more, it’s incredibly well executed.
It would be churlish of me to say that this film is wholly representative of the entire FBI and other American federal forces, as the bulk of their work is incredibly important to the continued security of the US and further afield, that being said however, I don’t doubt for an instant that this film has at least some roots in the truth.
In conclusion then, a bizarre yet darkly funny look at how we perceive extremism, wrapped up nicely by a memorable ending and some great performances; it’s a film in the same category as BlacKkKlansman last year, a film made to entertain, but also to make us look at society surrounding us, and how certain things are handled. It’s not on the same level as Spike Lee’s film, but it’s damn close.