Izzy 🤙🏽’s review published on Letterboxd:
The American Government Murdered Fred Hampton at just 21 years old.
2nd viewing. This is what happens when every single person on the cast and crew of this film is passionate about it. Everybody from the main cast to the extras to the sound engineers all poured their heart and soul into this, and it shows. An absolutely breathtaking, devastating film. An educational and insightful masterwork by fairly new director Shaka King, that does not give us a skewed view on the protagonist, which we see in so many biopics. Instead, it lets us see him in the grey area that he is in. Is he wrong for being a snitch? Is he wrong for doing it because he had no choice and he needed to survive?
LaKieth Stanfield perfectly portrays this struggling, conflicting, lost character, perfectly capturing and showing us the traumatic experiences he went through, the tough choices he had to make to ensure his own survival. The emotions he experienced having to play both sides of the coin. The emotional trauma of believing in the revolution he was helping destroy. As Jesse Plemons' character said, "This guy deserves an Academy Award". Daniel. Fucking. Kaluuya though, a career best performance from him. My mans speeches were so freaking on point and absolutely fucking impactful, i could not help but be blown away. His speeches left me speechless. After watching a series of Fred Hampton's interviews, i can say that Kaluuya was perfect. From the mannerisms to the voice work, everything was done perfectly.
Apart from the message, the performance and the intimacy of it, this film was also, from a technical standpoint, pretty much flawless. The script was so tight-knit. not a single line of dialogue felt unnecessary. Every speech, every argument, every comment was so impactful and for lack of a better word, snappy lol. The cinematography was simply breathtaking. The tracking shots, the framing, the color, the lighting. absolutely fantastic! The score, do not even get me started on the score. It is at some times, so sharp, so intense and at others so soothing, so intimate, so beautiful. It perfectly captures the tonal differences from the love Fred Hampton surrounds himself with and the danger and unpredictability of his life as the chairman of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party. The most original score I've heard in a long time. As I have stated, the directing is nothing short of masterful from Shaka King. Definitely a name to look out for in the near future.
I'm ashamed to do so but I will admit, before viewing this film and The Trial Of the Chicago 7, I had almost no clue who Fred Hampton was. Yes, I knew the name, I knew he was part of the panthers, but that's all i knew. god I didn't even know enough about the panthers that I probably should have. So I'm glad to say that this film taught me a lot. I left knowing and learning more, not just about the Fred Hampton's personal life, but everything he stood for and everything he fought for, the politics, the love, the equality, the movement, the politics. I'm proud to say this film taught me a lot. and i hope most, if not all viewers come out of this film with a similar experience. i want everyone to be able to learn something from this piece of art. so please, PLEASE watch this film. and not because "its a new film and its generated a lot of Oscar hype" or "oh it came out on black history month so I guess I gotta watch it". go watch it because I guarantee you, it has something to offer. you will leave the film learning something. despite the events of this film occurring decades ago, Judas and the Black Messiah is one of the most relevant films of today.
Ok ill stop talking about me now. i have a lot more thoughts that i cant place into words. I apologize for this messy and poorly written review. I didn't proof read it, I just puked out my thoughts in a couple mins. go watch it.