gravityfalling’s review published on Letterboxd:
yes, judas and the black messiah does fall prey to standard biopic tropes, but it’s also really good.
i resonated a lot with how the ideas of collectivism and individualism are disseminated. on one side is fred hampton, the embodiment of collectivism, while on the other is bill o’neal, the embodiment of individualism. a revolution is only as strong as the revolutionaries that make up said revolution, so it’s no wonder the fbi employed such dirty tactics to disassemble the black panther party from the inside. because when a problem is stripped down to what is purely personal, who’s to say people won’t become selfish. this is seen not only in o’neal, but in the fbi agents and the pigs who were complicit in obtaining information unethically and acting on it, killing black people because they were afraid for themselves. when given the chance to show compassion, the fbi agents and the pigs don’t, while the revolutionaries do. that’s telling.
i can’t really comment on this movie’s portrayal of hampton’s marxist-leninist politics because i’m not knowledgeable on the specifics of that, but the speeches did feel powerful. it’s easy to be direct in showing how enervating the violence is and to be able to match that with words is rare. daniel kaluuya deserves all the praise in that regard. more important is how those words rally a collective into believing in a common goal. although lakeith stanfield’s character isn’t as fleshed out as i would’ve liked, watching the ups and downs of o’neal questioning his motivations because of hampton’s words is more than enough for me to chew on for a while. ultimately, judas and the black messiah doesn’t offer an answer to which is better, collectivism or individualism, but it doesn’t have to. it’s a biopic based in history. but, it does reflect the needed notion that the work isn’t done yet.
if i didn’t make it clear the first time, it’s really good.