Judas and the Black Messiah

Judas and the Black Messiah ★★★★

So when the fuck are we removing Hoover’s name off the fucking FBI building?!?!?!?!

One of the only movies coming out in these 2 extended months of the Oscar schedule to seem will benefit is Judas and the Black Messiah which was originally schedule for last summer. This movie seemingly answered my plea from my review of The Trial of the Chicago 7 that I was very interested in Kelvin Harrison Jr. as Fred Hampton, a name that has been brought up a lot in the aftermath of last summer's conversations about Black Lives Matter that I never learned about in school but was an important historical figure I wanted to learn more about, and here it is! This time Daniel Kaluuya fills the shoes of the icon of the Black Panthers in the story of the final year of his short life and the FBI informant that did him in. Lakeith Stanfield plays this informant who is in a bind threatened by the FBI if he doesn't work work with them but could (and did) lead to the demise of this young leader. Both give great performances on different wave lengths with Kaluuya going big with rousing speeches and Stanfield doing his more lower key work making sure his cover isn't blown. The metaphor of the title of the Judas figure is apt because as time progresses you do feel the weight on Stanfield who knows he has messed up so many of these people's lives and work but is in too deep after he realizes what will happen to these people he has gotten really close with. Jesse Plemmons is excellent as the FBI agent threatening Stanfield, Dominque Fishback is great as Fred Hampton's fiancé though I wish she was given a few more stand out scenes, and I really loved Dominique Thorne as a tough member of the Panthers that gets a little in over her head leading into one of many run ins with the local police. I do think the great tragedy of the film of how young Fred Hampton was when he was murdered in his home at night (21!) would be deeper if someone like Kelvin Harrison Jr. who still looks fairly young and closer to 21 than Kaluuya, who was 30-31 when he made this and looks it, played the role but you still get the tragedy from both this and Chicago 7 at how much of a strong voice was lost from this movement. The movie also continues a common theme in so many of the movies we have been watching this year about who horrendous the FBI and J. Edgar Hoover were in this era and maybe it's about time to wipe his name clear off of a certain Government building that reside close to one of my places of work. Check out MLK/FBI for more on why this should be considered! Great costumes and writing and a really thrilling original song that leads into the end credits from H.E.R. with "Fight For You". Pretty good movie overall!

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