Joe Bro’s review published on Letterboxd:
“Wherever there’s people, there’s power.”
Any movie about Hampton made in Hollywood is always gonna be accompanied by a massive asterisk, but for what it’s worth...this is pretty damn good.
Structured and written (mostly) like a standard biopic, Judas is elevated thanks to its kinetic direction evident from the first frame, a fantastic performance from Stanfield, and an out of this world performance from Kaluuya. Every single moment of screentime is filled to the brim with passion, charisma, and truth. Easily the best performance of his already prestigious career, and one of the best performances I have seen in my life. It’s just...ridiculously good and heartfelt. It means something.
My biggest concern about this film was how they were going to portray Hampton’s communism, but I think they did a pretty good job. It still feels kinda strange seeing such ideas presented in a movie that is itself a product designed to make money, but there are a lot of powerful truths there and a lot of ideas planted that I expected to be glossed over. I’m not going to pretend I’m super read up on Hampton, but I thought what I saw on screen was at the very least not a betrayal of who I think he was. The community outreach, social programs, and talks of revolution are all present in much more prevalent ways than I expected. I won’t disagree with anyone who doesn’t like the portrayal, but I thought it was done well.
King is gonna be a star. The direction is tight and magnetic, with a distinct visual flare that is never obtuse or distracting. Loved how much of O’Neal’s struggle was conveyed visually rather than explained orally.
This movie was well worth my time and will definitely inspire me to look deeper into Hampton’s life and legacy for myself, to see beyond the Hollywood version that I already dig.
Also, here is a link to a go fund me to save the Hampton House, Fred Hampton’s childhood home. I donated, and I believe you should too.