Judas and the Black Messiah

Judas and the Black Messiah ★★★½

Bolstered by two powerhouse performances from two of the brightest acting talents working in Hollywood today, Judas and the Black Messiah is a potent & provocative slice of American history that renders the life & legacy of Fred Hampton on film with endless zeal, charged intensity & bracing authenticity, and is possibly the first cinematic gem of 2021.

Co-written & directed by Shaka King, this biopic is crafted with as much restraint as it seethes with rage and King does a brilliant job at placing & highlighting the issues of the present in this dramatisation of the past. The plot stays compelling, the script retains its sharp edges & King's direction exhibits deft composure from start to finish, plus neat work in other aspects help uplift the narrative even more.

The finest aspect however are the performances. Daniel Kaluuya has an undeniable aura about him and his screen presence here makes his commanding performance as Black Panther Party's deputy chairman all the more convincing. Lakeith Stanfield plays the informant whose betrayal leads to Hampston's assassination at the hands of the FBI and his input is just as impressive as Kaluuya. Jesse Plemons is always reliable and he's no different here.

Overall, Judas and the Black Messiah packs a raw power & vicious energy which it channels through its sophisticated imagery & skilful storytelling to offer a biopic that not only honours the life of Fred Hampston but also emboldens everything he stood for. An incisive indictment of the oppression & injustice of minorities in America and its corrupt system's incessant need to silence any voice of reason & revolution that rises from such subjugation, Judas and the Black Messiah comes recommended.

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