Review: Judas And The Black Messiah

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LaKeith Stanfield and Daniel Kaluuya deliver phenomenal performances in this haunting thriller that shines light on a dark period of American history.

An FBI informant (Stanfield) goes undercover in the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party, befriending Chairman Fred Hampton (Kaluuya) and confronting the blatant racism of the world around him. Judas and the Black Messiah is a film that many will find difficult to watch, not only for the violence and language throughout, but for the blatant historical racism viewers are forced to confront. Kaluuya expertly embodies the BPP leader in both tone and conflict, a character who fights for equality, but often with brutal tactics. Stanfield is the link in the film between the world of those fighting for their rights and the conspiratorial actors (police, FBI) that are pushing them back down. All is dissected and analyzed through powerful dialogue and scene juxtaposition that is a testament to the power of the topic and of the script.

Director Shaka King’s directorial debut is an absolute home run on every level. Beautifully filmed and methodically told, this stain on American history continues to reverberate through society today. Watching films like Judas and the Black Messiah is never easy, yet imperative to understand the systemic failures that were fueled by those in power. King’s cast brings the story to life, not only through the Oscar-worthy performances from Stanfield and Kaluuya, but an equally committed supporting squadron of talent. 

Judas and the Black Messiah is the first must-see film of 2021. Watch it Friday when it debuts in theaters and on HBO Max.

Rating: 5/5

Photo from Variety

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