Judas and the Black Messiah

Judas and the Black Messiah ★★★½

A standard biopic uplifted by some strong performances. It’s great seeing Jessie Plemmons and LaKeith Stanfield’s slightly subdued and frantic deliveries work off of each other with the same being said for Daniel Kaluya’s strong and commanding presence meshing with the softer and delightful tone of Deborah Johnson. Unfortunately, the actual film doesn’t match the powerful trailer and Fred Hampton takes a back seat in his own story. It’s hard to be compelling with the focus primarily on the titular Judas without giving The Black Messiah and his comrades much more depth than the icons as we knew them before going in. William O’Neal was an irredeemable man with weak motives and not much to say in real life or within the film after his vile betrayal was over with. I would’ve preferred a longer cut with the same characters and more depth to each of them because there’s a lot going on here that just fizzles out in the end. A story with this magnitude deserved something a bit more epic than what we got. Not being high on most of the rumored Oscar picks this year and this one likely to follow, but still makes use of it’s stacked cast enough to be a strong contender in their respective categories.

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