The quote ‘if you want to send a message, use Western Union’ is falsely attributed to Samuel Goldwyn, yet its sentiment has a truth to it. People don’t go to the cinema for a lecture, they go to be entertained, to form a meaningful connection to the events onscreen.
It is a failure to fully appreciate this which frustrates Chris’ Morris farce The Day Shall Come. The FBI has adopted a noxious strategy in the decades since 9/11 to use undercover agents to goad schlubs across America into planning terrorist activities; entrapment by any other name. The film uses one such patsy, Moses (the well named Marchant Davis) a lightly fictionalised Black Israelite leader, to show the absurdity of such a practice.
Davis gives a great performance, and his foil of FBI Agent Kendra (Anna Kendrick) shows off some great comedic capabilities also. Alas the feature finds itself going round in circles, as a broad brush approach hammers home the injustice of the FBI recruiting individuals to be terrorists early on, leaving little room to go thematically.
The dialogue between FBI agents has a screwball pace to it, and while there are great putdowns scattered in there the careerist drama is a little rote and the male agents almost entirely interchangeable. Moses’ cult members also have no room to grow beyond one dimensional roles, and this does hamstring set pieces involving nuclear material and white supremacists. We still have a talking horse which is a highlight as well as an insight into Moses’ mental state.
Regardless, this brickbat moralazing just isn’t funny or insightful enough to carry out for feature length, and the information conveyed might be better placed as a broadsheet feature. Chris Morris managed to shock with Brass Eye and create funny yet engaging characters with Four Lions, yet he’s deflated on both fronts here.