Michael Cox’s review published on Letterboxd:
"I am... a revolutionary!" - Fred Hampton
What a powerful film. It should be a tour de force this awards season and I don't understand why it's not.
This film took a unique stance: it remained unbiased. It presented you with what happened and let you choose a side, if you so chose to do. It never held one side on a pedestal nor did it villainize the other. It didn't say "white people racist, black people good". It didn't say, "FBI corrupt, Black Panthers pure". It merely presented what had happened. When somebody was doing something wrong, often characters would recognize that it was wrong and were trapped because of it whether it be their emotions, decisions, or their job was on the line. What happened was truly a disgrace and it saddened me.
The score was excellent as it focused on building the tension and would often be the reason I was on edge. The screenplay was masterful as it felt poignant, hard-hitting and thought provoking. The cinematography and editing were something special. The two often went hand-in-hand to create a very stylized look and feel to it from the slick camerawork and cuts intertwined with each other to the intimate and claustrophobic close-ups on the characters. Like I mentioned in the beginning, the film had a number of powerful moments and revelations and hardly ever let up to make you feel the full weight of it.
The cast was incredible all round, but the real standouts to me were Jesse Plemons (Roy Mitchell), Dominique Fishback (Deborah Johnson), Lakeith Stanfield (("Wild Bill" O'Neal), and Daniel Kaluuya (Fred Hampton). Jesse Plemons never fails to disappoint while Fishback pleasantly surprised me with her charming yet impactful performance (her poem was a thing of beauty). Stanfield remains to be seen as one of the best up and coming actors, but Kaluuya here was on another level, holy crap.
Kaluuya's gonna orate his way to that Oscar because, man(!), he's delivered an electric and powerhouse performance. As my dad described him, he's "unflappable" and his speeches often riled me up as well. More often that, I had to contain myself from loudly chanting and cheering along with the crowds in the film.
However, the film had some pacing issues, but I get what they were for. I just wished they were handled a little better.
What an incredible film and as of right now, it's the best film this season so far, in my opinion.