Judas and the Black Messiah

Judas and the Black Messiah ★★★★

“I’m free.”

The first great movie of 2021 folks!

Out of all the ‘Civil Rights Movement’ movies I’ve seen over the years, I honestly believe that this might be the best one. Without falling into any traditional biopics tropes that could easily dramatize its history. It instead focuses on a story about fear, violence, betrayal, and loyalty. It is heavily empathize from different perspectives; it’s the reason why it was more effective.

In the movie, whenever someone gets shot, beaten, or just hurt, you feel it. The sound work, directing, and the performers manage to make it believable. Very brutal and realistic. However, what surprised me the most is how suspenseful the movie was at times, with the payoff either being soul crushing or shocking.

All thanks to Shaka King’s directing and Sean Bobbitt’s cinematography that manages to capture the most difficult times in American history, but also capturing the feeling of that time, or what it must have felt like.

Daniel Kaluuya, what a beast of an actor that keeps growing momentum over the years. Powerful and natural, he really is one of the best working actors of today. Not only did he capture the accent but nailed down the overall feeling of the charismatic activist Fred Hampton.

LaKeith Stanfield, a fantastic character actor that pops up everywhere and fully commits to every role he plays. In this movie, he delivers a fantastic performance and he continues to surprise and amaze me. Perfectly casted as well, him playing Bill O'Neal, the tense and sleek FBI informant who infiltrates the Black Panther Party and keeps tabs on their charismatic leader. Stanfield himself already has that intense look in real life, which best suits him for this type of role.

Martin Sheen and Jesse Plemons were also fantastic in their supporting roles. Dominique Fishback also deserves a mention here because I thought she was brilliant as Deborah Johnson, the woman who falls in love with Fred Hampton. There’s one particular scene in this movie, without her uttering a single word, absolutely killed it and made the scene itself more devastating. I’m keeping it vague because it will be spoiling things and we don't want that, do we? Watch the movie and see for yourself.

I found the overall experience devastating, and yet, a hopeful one as well, as there was little glimpses of light, because despite there being so much hate in this world, both past and present, you cannot destroy a revolution.

Overall rating: People say that ‘The Trial of the Chicago 7’ kept their interest throughout, but for me it didn’t, as I thought there had to be a more interesting movie to be made around the Black Panther Movement. Well, everyone, here it is.

Matthew L. Brady liked these reviews