Judas and the Black Messiah

Judas and the Black Messiah

Bill O'Neal infiltrates the Black Panthers on the orders of FBI Agent Mitchell and J. Edgar Hoover. As Black Panther Chairman Fred Hampton ascends—falling for a fellow revolutionary en route—a battle wages for O’Neal’s soul.

  • Released: 2021-02-12
  • Runtime: 126 minutes
  • Genre: Drama, History
  • Stars: Lakeith Stanfield, Daniel Kaluuya, Jesse Plemons, Dominique Fishback, Ashton Sanders, Algee Smith, Darrell Britt-Gibson, Lil Rel Howery, Dominique Thorne, Martin Sheen, Amari Cheatom, Ian Duff, Caleb Eberhardt, Robert Longstreet, Nick Fink, Nicholas Velez, Terayle Hill, Graham Lutes, Khris Davis, Amber Chardae Robinson, Ikechukwu Ufomadu, James Udom, Jermaine Fowler, Chris Hahn, Raymond Seay, Linda D Gaines
  • Director: Shaka King
  • owen-watts - 30 July 2023
    Messiah Complex
    A film of two halves and anchored by some transcendentally good performances (particularly from the hypnotically transformed tea leaf). There's an incredibly strong grey-morals spy thriller here wrestling with a reverent biopic, and the latter keeps getting in the way of the former. King shoots it with a documentarian dryness which both heightens the horror at what came to pass but hoovers out the theatrical tension. Hampton's portrayal, however glorious, is also brittle to the point of parody. The less we see of a messiah, the more weight they carry, so to give this over entirely to Stanfield's electric Wild Bill may seem heretical but would have made for a far more fantastic film.
  • perceptive_detective - 3 February 2023
    Judas and the Black Messiah was a great movie about the struggle for civil rights in lates 60's America. It deals with themes of revolution, betrayal and conspiracy. The film greatly captured the feeling; I believe; of a time in America where race-based conflict and the demand for civil rights were at a boiling point for civilians at the time.

    Production wise I have nothing to complain about. The cinematography was stilted and slow paced as it needed to be for a majority of scenes in the film. The soundtrack was great with a lot of distorted Jazz and classical music to help immerse audiences in the time period. The costumes were very authentic, especially the uniforms of Black Panther members nailing their look of authority and unity under being black, but also looking militaristic. As well the period-based clothing of Americans in the 60's was also well implemented. The locations as well helped reinforce the gritty undertone of the situation, I am speaking very specifically about the Crowns layer, and the hideout shootout.

    This movie finally answered a question I've had for quite a while: Are Daniel Kaluuya and Lakeith Stanfield good actors? I'll let you answer that yourselves before reading on... Great! My answer: Yes, they are. I always felt Kaluuya has been somewhat one note for a while, playing this soft spoken, cool black guy who always looks down before chuckling about something, but now I can see he can play a charismatic, outspoken leader with an American accent, who also looks down and chuckles before looking back up. He sounded like he was doing an impression of Laurence Fishburne to me, and that's not a knock at him, I really really enjoyed it and listened to every word he said. He did a phenomenal job at playing the silver-tongued preacher who rallies his followers towards a larger goal. Hell, at some point he even had me yelling "Chairman Fred!" and "I am a revolutionary", and I'm the farthest thing from it, but that just speaks to how charismatic he was to me and how inspiring he came across.

    And as for Lakeith, while he's still playing the kind of smart talking, stressed out youth, here it felt as though he had more to work with and more to express, as he had to yell out and be "angry" and confused a bunch, so it was nice to see him play that up. He was great in the role of William O'Neal, as I could believe him when he would act up for his fellow comrades. You could see every ounce of guilt in his face whenever Agent Roy would have him dig deeper.

    Every other actor gave a great performance, no one was weak at all in this, even the side/minor characters. The dialogue was also very strong, as it played up to the sense of comradery between Panthers and others fighting the struggle.

    The story felt typical in that it was a story about someone having to be a rat for some organization against their will or for a lighter sentence, and that's fine because its execution was very well done. Characters felt real, stakes were high, and themes of targeted, premeditated violence towards African American organizations of political change were spot on. As mentioned before, I feel the film did a great job at immersing audiences in its world of civil disobedience. Maybe a black man myself, I could better rally behind their messages and spirit of revolution. That's one thing I feel anyone can take away from this film is the power of community and the power in people.

    Judas and the Black Messiah gets a huge recommendation from me, it is well told, strongly performed, and immersive.
  • bigmatt-48656 - 1 July 2022
    White people.
    It's mind blowing how sick white people are. I'm not even about to get into that. My thing is how white people assassinate black leaders like this and 30 years later make a film how they assassinate such black leaders and make millions off the back end of it. It's not talked about enough it's just sickening how those demons get off like this.
  • david-meldrum - 13 February 2022
    Brilliant, Morally And Politically Complex, Gripping
    I think the real achievement of this film is that it feels truthful. I don't only mean the truthfulness of who did what and when - to be honest, I know next to nothing about this particular series of events. I mean rather that it somehow manages to some justice to the moral and political complexities of the situation it's exploring, without losing sight of the need to move at a good pace and to keep the viewer gripped. The performances and the screenplay are superb, of course; it's pointless highlighting one or two actors when the whole ensemble is this good. There are some brilliant set-pieces too; I especially think that the rally after Hampton has come out of prison is as good a scene of its type as I've seen ... within its compass, it manages to let the story flow, build characters and delve deeper into those complexities that lie at the film's heart. All in all, it's a brilliant achievement. It's not for me, a white British man, to say that this is in any way definitive of the black American experience and history; but I can say it gave me insights that startled me in a package that gripped me.