Brandon White’s review published on Letterboxd:
For the longest time, whenever I go to my room to either go do homework or watch a film, I always look at the poster for Judas and the Black Messiah that while I’m always grateful for that, thanks to Ethan Colburn for giving me the poster, it always reminds me that I need to watch the film. The trailers have always sold me on it and seeing that it’s been on HBO MAX for a long time, there’s really no excuse for me to not watch it and learn some history about Fred Hampton (Daniel Kaluuya), William O’Neal (Lakeith Stanfield), and the Illinois Black Panthers.
Daniel Kaluuya did a prestigious job as Fred Hampton that shows his one life as an activist that just wants the best for everyone that dealt with police brutality or the government, and shows another side of his life when being with his girlfriend Akua Njeri (Dominique Fishback). He has this passionate energy that brings this person to life that just feels unrecognizable to see Daniel Kaluuya in this film.
Lakeith Stanfield did also a great job as this person who was in the low downs by stealing vehicles, impersonating an FBI agent that got caught by an FBI agent himself gives him a second chance to be a free person by looking into Fred Hampton and his group. Lakeith goes through so many emotions in this to make this character work for what he went through himself to where he felt like an outcast at first, to being part of a group for a cause that makes him reevaluate himself for his own morals of what he's doing.
With a title like this, there’s a lot to see in this in a perspective of religious figures like Jesus Christ himself that holds so many similar comparisons. It can be empowering, passionate, engaging, and emotional to watch that is rough to watch at points while learning about the darker aspects of certain people that are well known as J. Edgar Hoover (Martin Sheen) that I’m not too familiar with, but after this one, I think I know enough on how I feel about him. It knows to not shy away from the history that shows the good, bad, and ugly of the situation O’Neal got himself in when joining the Illinois Black Panthers.
The fact that this is Shaka King’s second film really shows his confidence as a director that is very meticulous on what he wants to present of his vision to the screen, and it really makes me want to give his first film Newlyweeds a watch in the near future whenever I get the chance. The shots, the score, and the chemistry between the two main leads are so well put together that there wasn’t a moment where my eyes weren’t glued to the screen. Judas and the Black Messiah was such an experience to me that I was left with such sadness and anger that’s more effective in its parallels to recent times than something like Trial of Chicago 7 that feels dated and corny as fuck.