Judas and the Black Messiah

Judas and the Black Messiah ★★★


"War is politics with violence; politics is war without violence."

Judas and the Black Messiah has a runtime of 2 hours and 5 minutes... yet it somehow feels incomplete??? I just wish they could've delve deeper on the complexities of its characters, especially O'Neal's moral psyche since his conflicted dilemma throughout the film was only presented on a little surface level. Also, I wish they casted actual younger actors to portray the real-life young characters. The obvious age difference was a bit distracting. Fred Hampton was only 21 when he was killed by the police and Bill O'Neal was only 17 when he was recruited by the FBI to infiltrate the BPP. The film, however, just wants us to acknowledge its characters' remarkable power and their important place in history, but not their youth. I agree with Jamelle Bouie that the casting of older actors diminish what's most appaling about their stories.

That said, Shaka King's Judas and the Black Messiah is still a powerful and compelling historical film that speaks very much of the moment. It's thrilling, intense, and dramatic. Lakeith Steinfeld, Daniel Kaluuya, and Dominique Fishback gave superb performances.

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