Jeremy Crabb’s review published on Letterboxd:
Sundance 2021 - Film #6
Hot take inbound.
Judas and the Black Messiah was my most anticipated film of Sundance, so it pains me to say that I was a bit let down with this one. It's definitely not a bad film by any means. The camerawork is remarkable, Kaluuya and Stanfield are incredible as always and I would not mind at all if they were nominated, and the film does have some effective scenes throughout, and even a pretty powerful ending. I just think it's a film that adds up to less than the sum of its parts.
My biggest issue with the film is the character work. I never really felt like I got to know any of the characters that well, but rather the Wikipedia cliff notes versions of them, which made most of them fairly hard to connect to, despite the incredible performances on display. For that reason, I felt more like an outsider looking in watching this film than I did a fly on the wall, which was disappointing.
That being said, I'd still say this is worth a watch for the performances and general filmmaking. It's a well-crafted film no doubt, just one that I think needed stronger character work and a tighter script to really land the punch it needed to.