Judas and the Black Messiah

Judas and the Black Messiah ★★★

The unique approach to the material both helps and hurts. On one hand, by setting it from William O'Neal's perspective, it avoids feeling like a traditional Fred Hampton biopic and allows the film to explore the characters and circumstances leading to Hampton's murder more deeply; but ultimately, the film can't capitalize on this opportunity. There's no way to justify O'Neal's actions, and the film smartly doesn't attempt to, but it leaves the film devoid of a compelling arc and emotional through line at its center. The performances are electrifying, and the film thankfully avoids blunt didacticism and overt dramatization of real events, but there's no reason I'd return to this instead of The Murder of Fred Hampton.