Dan Owens’s review published on Letterboxd:
"Black people need some peace. White people need some peace. And we are going to have to fight. We're going to have to struggle. We're going to have to struggle relentlessly to bring about some peace, because the people that we're asking for peace, they are a bunch of megalomaniac warmongers, and they don't even understand what peace means." - Fred Hampton
Gripping, unapologetic, poetic, and important. Shaka King's, 'Judas and The Black Messiah' is a force to be reckoned with. Highlighting the still very real atrocities not only minorities face, but people in general still face today. A film that doesn't ask for your attention, but demands it, and deserves it.
Inspired by true events, 'Judas and The Black Messiah' follows some of the events and people, that lead to the malicious murder of Illinois Black Panther Party leader, Fred Hampton in the late 1960s. When a petty car thief by the name of, William O'Neal (LaKeith Stanfield), is detained by the FBI, for impersonating the FBI, to aid in his Grand Theft Auto hustle. William, who prefers to go by Bill, is then coerced to infiltrate the local Black Panther Party, by agent Roy Mitchell (Jesse Plemons), to avoid jail time.
At first Bill is more than compliant. Taking the Fed's cash, following all their orders, and thinking only of himself. As further events transpire, Bill begins to question the true integrity of the FBI's actions, as well as his own. As the film goes on Bill is continually forced into doing more and more heinous actions against the Party. As more innocent brothers and sisters fall at the corrupt Government's hand right before his eyes... Bill ultimately finds himself completely conflicted and stricken with guilt by the films dramatic end.
During all the injustices, betrayals, and heartaches, Fred wants nothing more than to protect the people. Not just minorities, but all the people who are abused, tired, hungry, and forgotten about. The people who have had enough of the brutality, enough of the inequality, enough of the capitalistic, fascist, and corrupt system that surrounds them. Spending every moment of his entire life in devotion to seeing his vision through until the very end.
'Judas and The Black Messiah' is an Incredibly well crafted, inspiring, poignant, and mighty film. Truly the first great film of 2021 in my opinion and undoubtedly one that will go down as at least one of the best 2021 has to offer. With exceptional cinematography and camera work. One of the best collaborative scores in recent memory from Craig Harris and Mark Isham. Powerful, poetic, writing and direction. Swift editing. And convincingly strong performances from the entire cast, with a standout tour de force performance from Daniel Kaluuya as Fred Hampton... may he rest in peace.💔