Jon?’s review published on Letterboxd:
eh. I’d prefer movies about socialists and communists to not be produced and performed by capitalists. don’t even get me started on having jay z be on the soundtrack.
biopics never work for me. they just come off as lazy, half-hearted recreations of the truth, and almost never give you a complete picture anyways. idk man, I’d prefer to just read a book about what actually happened, and what the Panthers/Fred Hampton were really about. this film is just way too focused on the operation (yes I get that’s the main point of the plot, doesn’t make it good) and takes a lot of liberties with regards to demonstrating not only what the Panthers were about, but WHY they had the revolutionary mindset, and HOW explicitly it was enacted. the meeting between the Panthers and the Young Patriots (as well as the joint rally they have with the Young Lords shortly after) seems to only focus on a recent killing by police. and that is, obviously, a major issue that should be highlighted...but that wasn’t the only thing they were against. you could argue it’s not even the main thing they were against. the main enemy is capitalism in all forms, as it is a driving force behind many (if not all) of the ills plaguing us. but if that were boldly stated as it should’ve been (and like Hampton himself did irl, not just mildly in passing like it was here) that might make the film’s backers, and audience, too uncomfortable. instead, real people are reduced to avatars that allow these actors (and to an extent the audience as well) to try on a “revolutionary” ideal for 126 minutes. sure the filmmaking is solid, but it never wows and is a bit jagged in some highly significant moments. don’t have much to say about the acting either, as it’s fine I guess but it’s hard to suspend my disbelief when I imagine these people irl don’t have the same zeal as the people they’re portraying.
you can slap on an incendiary (and admittedly awesome) title, you can cosplay as revolutionary all you want, but it ain’t a substitute for the real thing.