EJ Paras’s review published on Letterboxd:
“A badge is scarier than a gun... sir.”
Undoubtedly one of the best films of this awards season. Visceral. Gripping. Powerful. Haunting. Judas and the Black Messiah delivers, for sure. Shaka King = 🔥
“I am a revolutionary!”
Many things contribute to the lifeblood of Judas, but Daniel Kaluuya as Fred Hampton is a tour de force. He is alive, and he is absolutely electric. There are a handful of moments where I thought to myself while watching, “oh, he got the Oscar because of that,” but the definitive “I am a revolutionary!” scene... yep, he definitely won the Oscar for that moment. And if he doesn’t win, then that’s some hot stinky BS.
The story is told exquisitely. Shaka King’s original idea for this film was like The Departed in a sense, he described. The hook: there seems to be a few rats in the Black Panther Party, but no one knows who they are.
Enter Lakeith Stanfield (who is spectacular) as Bill O’Neal. A black man caught between a rock and a hard place, in a serious moral dilemma that has cultural and personal implications. He’s threatened with years of prison time, but is promised safety if he acts as an FBI informant. O’Neal infiltrates the Black Panther Party, and even gets a pretty important position within it. Where does his allegiance lie in the end?
This movie accomplishes a heck-ton during its runtime, all with a pretty surefire pace. It’s a character study, a biopic, and a cultural examination. I watched this with my younger brother, and it was surely educational for him. What’s happening in the 21st century is nothing new. History repeats itself.
I really appreciated so many of the film’s elements. The music was a cultural immersion, and a definite tone-setter. The beginning of the film has a blistering pace, but it also has its more meditative moments.
A good film is the sum of its parts, and I’m pleased to report that Judas and the Black Messiah has many, many good parts. Great job to the team behind this.
The revolution lives on.
“Politics is war without bloodshed while war is politics with bloodshed.”