Judas and the Black Messiah

Judas and the Black Messiah ★★★★★

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

This film easily surpassed my expectations. Based on its Letterboxd rating, I knew it was going to be good, but I did not expect it to be as radical in its politics as it was. I was prepared to be let down by this movie in that regard. Armed black socialists are not exactly palatable to a white movie-going audience, so I expected Fred Hampton and the Black Panthers to be watered down and softened. I anticipated them to be akin to the modern-day image of Martin Luther King, Jr.: mostly apolitical and without any firm beliefs besides that racism is bad.

Instead, the film is firm in its politics. The Black Panthers are vocal about their politics and revolutionary goals. The work they do for their community is discussed multiple times throughout the film. The police and FBI are exclusively and accurately shown in a negative light, without even a smidgen of sympathy or defence for their actions. When Bill O'Neal meets with FBI Agent Roy Mitchell, Mitchell comes across as sleazy and manipulative; he has no problem with being this way to O'Neal in order to advance the FBI's agenda.

Lakeith Stanfield and Daniel Kaluuya both gave fantastic performances. Everybody else gave great performances as well, but theirs weren't as good as Stanfield and Kaluuya's. They each fit their respective roles like a glove. I could have believed that they were the actual people they played.

Go see it if you can. I know it's very early, but this is a good contender for the best film of 2021.

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