Judas and the Black Messiah

Judas and the Black Messiah ★★★

A solid, but somewhat uneven film. This is a story that needed to be told, but I felt the screenplay was a little too scatterbrained, at times focusing on elements that felt extraneous and other times feeling like it's not digging deep enough. Shaka King's direction is impressive, the style of the film is slick and engaging (gorgeous cinematography by the always excellent Sean Bobbitt), but I wanted a little more command of the narrative. I think the way he chose to end the film was really powerful though.

Daniel Kaluuya and Lakeith Stanfield are great as always. Kaluuya really gets to go all out and chew the scenery, and Lakeith takes on the more subtle character filled with internal struggle. In a way I think he had the more challenging role, with a much more complex and layered character to portray. I wish the screenplay gave a little more depth to the Fred Hampton character, he's sort of depicted in a one-note way, almost a godlike figure with no major flaws or internal conflict other than choosing to be a voice for the people despite the dangers that comes with that public persona.

I mostly understand the hype here, but I think some of the praise is slightly overblown. Shaka King definitely has a bright future and I look forward to seeing him hone his craft even more.


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