Judas and the Black Messiah

Judas and the Black Messiah ★★★★★

You can kill a revolutionary but you cannot kill the revolution.

Every awards season there's an influx of films that strive to be the best, some are far too obvious in being awards bait that they are soon forgotten however, there are a select few that have a power to them that ensures they stand the test of time and live long in the history books of cinema. Judas and the Black Messiah is that film this year and a quite remarkable sophomore feature from filmmaker Shaka King.

Bill O'Neal (Lakeith Stanfield) infiltrates the Black Panther Party per FBI Agent Mitchell (Jesse Plemons) and J. Edgar Hoover (Martin Sheen). As Party Chairman Fred Hampton (Daniel Kaluuya) ascends, falling for a fellow revolutionary en route, a battle wages for O'Neal's soul.

Judas and the Black Messiah is a film that will shake you to your core, Shaka King directing and co-writing a film that hones in on the racial injustices that are still apparent in the world today. It's a fascinating true story brought to life in such electrifying fashion, King not wasting a shred of runtime to tell such a compelling story of fighting for justice and loyalty, Kristan Sprague's editing being utilised to such great effect.

The film moves along at such a blistering pace, ensuring the audience is engrossed in every single frame, aided by some beautifully crafted shots from cinematographer Sean Bobbitt. When the power of the dialogue is matched in the visuals then you know you have a special film on your hands.

Where Judas and the Black Messiah truly does excel is in its performances, particularly those of the two leads, Daniel Kaluuya and Lakeith Stanfield, two actors with the world at their feet and such promising careers ahead of them. As Fred Hampton, Kaluuya gives the performance of his career, dominating the screen with such a powerful presence but never losing the humanity behind Hampton's character. There's a real passion from Kaluuya to do this historic figure justice and he more than does enough in that aspect.

Going toe-to-toe with Kaluuya's Hampton is Lakeith Stanfield as Bill O'Neal, a much more understated performance yet possessing just as much power as his counterpart. Stanfield is an actor who can convey so much emotion through his expressions and he portrays the conflicted soul of O'Neal brilliantly throughout. The rest of the ensemble that make Judas and the Black Messiah such compelling viewing is a combination of experience in Martin Sheen and Jesse Plemons, and new faces that bring so much emotion to the screen from the likes of Dominique Fishback and Dominique Thorne.

As of now, Judas and the Black Messiah is my favourite film of the year and will take some beating. Not only is it a tour-de-force from all involved, it also serves as a timely reminder that injustices such as this still happen to this day and that is something that simply has to change.

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