Judas and the Black Messiah

Judas and the Black Messiah ★★★½

After making waves at Sundance, Judas and the Black Messiah is a fantastically acted and well-directed drama from Shaka King telling the story of Fred Hampton's rise to power while Lakeith Stanfield's FBI informant infiltrates the inner circle of the Black Panther Party. The character dynamic is as fascinating as it is depressing, and some of the best scenes here display the tension of not knowing who to trust. The performances of Kaluuya and Stanfield are uniformly excellent, but Jesse Plemons also does an excellent job with his smaller supporting role.

The screenplay from Will Berson and Shaka King goes a lot of places narratively showcasing many different events building up to the climax, and its messy structure did prevent some of the relationships from being explored in an emotionally satisfying way. Hampton's relationships with his girlfriend and O'Neal felt rushed despite the amount of time setting these characters up and prevented the film from reaching the heights of similar dramas like BlacKkKlansman or Fences that dealt with the same time period. Still, Judas and the Black Messiah is a very solid and fascinating drama that should absolutely be seen before leaving HBO Max next month. B

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