Brandon Streussnig’s review published on Letterboxd:
Judas and the Black Messiah is the most uncompromising depiction of the civil rights movement I’ve ever seen released by a major studio. And it’s not even close. Now, that said, you have to realize the key words there “major studio film.” Because it’s from Warner Bros, it was never going to be as radical as I think this story probably needs gonna but it’s remarkably honest all things considered.
Never sentimental. Never falling into any pitfalls most biopics do. Just incredible filmmaking from Shaka King. Devastating. Just devastating. It’s disgusting that our education system barely tells who Fred Hampton was let alone everything else in this film.
Everyone is obviously great in this but Daniel Kaluuya is transcendent. I know this is extreme recency bias and I’m feeling a ton of emotions but I think he’s firmly the best actor of his generation at this point. Absurdly nuanced. Even just his eyes.
I think what most surprised me was how much King’s direction made this feel like a New Hollywood film. Not so much in its DP work, set dec or costuming but just in its pacing and and unsentimentally. He’s a major talent.