Matt64’s review published on Letterboxd:
Judas And The Black Messiah left me completely speechless and shook by the time we got to the end credits. This is a powerful film that serves as one of the most haunting portrayals of racial discrimination i have seen on-screen.
I hope that Shaka King gets more work in the future because he seems like a promising director and writer. His direction and writing make for a film that is filled to the brim in thematic poignancy and emotional/narrative weight. The way he explores the themes of racism, police brutality, self-preservation and solidarity make for a gripping experience that is not only breathtaking from a storytelling perspective, but one that i found to be completely informative. It truly felt like I learned something new about this film’s themes and message as i was watching it.
The performances in this film are top-notch. Every single cast member manages to deliver no matter how much screen time they are given. LaKeith Stanfield delivers his best performance to date, as he brings one that adds ferocity and passion to his character. However, the one person who steals the show in terms of acting is Daniel Kaluuya. He, like Stanfield, brings so much passion and barbarity to the character, but also delivers a sense of pathos to Fred Hampton as well, making him feel like a true human being with a soul to him.
From a technical perspective, this film soars. The cinematography, editing, and music are brilliantly done while melding with the film’s tone, setting, and story perfectly. They also manage to amplify the tension of the more action-packed scenes in a natural manner (The editing also made for a film with near-perfect pacing too).
If there was one thing i would have to nitpick about the film, it would be that the pacing can feel a bit inconsistent at times. There was one scene in particular between Jesse Plemons’s Roy and Martin Sheen’s J. Edgar Hoover that could’ve been cut from the film entirely and it wouldn’t have changed the narrative in any way shape or form. But aside from that, this is a powerful that is not only well-made, but also treats its subject matter with every ounce of respect, emotional rawness, and authenticity it can possibly offer.
Overall Grade: A (9.5/10)