Judas and the Black Messiah

Judas and the Black Messiah ★★★★

A compelling and important story that is well told. I'm hardly the authority for such things, but it doesn't feel like this telling has been sanitized to cater to white fragility like too many biopics and historical dramas do. The messages of fighting systemic oppression with class solidarity and mutual aid are still needed today. And the US government's violent retaliation and murder of Fred Hampton is something that cannot be forgotten.

One thing that I didn't realize until listening to a podcast discussion about the film days later was just how young Hampton and O'Neal were during the events depicted here. It is clear in the film that the FBI's Roy Mitchell is taking advantage of William O'Neal, but to fully appreciate just how ghoulish the actions of the FBI were, it should be clear that O'Neal was only 17 YEARS OLD when he first got picked up. That is a very important aspect to the power dynamics at play and the choices O'Neal made. He was a kid in a really tight spot, being manipulated by an agent of the state, and who had no way of seeing the big picture consequences of his actions against Hampton.

I love Daniel Kaluuya and LaKeith Stanfield and they are doing great work here. But I think more age-appropriate casting could have really increased the impact of this film.

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