JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH Review
Updated: Aug 24, 2021
Offered a plea deal by the FBI, William O'Neal infiltrates the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party to gather intelligence on Chairman Fred Hampton.
This film was made for the theaters. It's just something about suspenseful films that makes me want to stuff my face over a bed of popcorn and a slew of nachos. Unfortunately, times have changed and premieres are still virtual. However, unlike the others, my experience was not ruined and I am pleased to say that this film is absolutely spectacular.
Director Shaka King kicks it up a notch with his biggest film yet and he refuses to take any shortcuts. The story structure is keen, the cinematography is smooth, and the score is stylish with a melody that transports you right into the 70's. His intentions are clear and he knows his viewers well. He insist on using fast-paced dialogue, booming sound design, and emotional sequences to take the audience on a roller coaster that you may or may not know how it ends...
Initially, I was on the fence about Daniel Kaluuya's casting as Fred Hampton, but once again, he proved me wrong. He is a masterful actor and at this point, I am convinced that he can do anything. He is phenomenal as the organization's chairman and gives it his all in every scene. All performances are fantastic across the board, from Lakieth Stanfield to even a small appearance by Ashton Sanders. It is evident that the material is sensitive and as expected, all talent does it justice.
If you don't know Fred Hampton's story, I won't ruin it for you. But, be aware that this film is not an easy watch. The Black Panther Party is under constant attack and Shaka does not shy away from violence or gore. I have been waiting for a film to show the party in this light for as long as I can remember and I am elated that this film exists. The members are stone-cold badasses. Each and every one of them will protect the party by any means necessary. They are intelligent soldiers of the community and I am glad that the film spent time showing us how involved and liberating they were, rather than the notions exploited by society. In times like this, this is the type of film we need.
Grab your family and friends, and enjoy this piece of history in celebration of Black History Month.
It's a good one.