Judas and the Black Messiah

Judas and the Black Messiah ★★★½

Shaka King directs Lakeith Standfield and Daniel Kaluuya, in a two hour film focusing on the black panthers in the late 60s.

A fairly assured debut film, more than you might be able to say of some others, especially working in the Hollywood system.
The titular Judas, although you'd be right to condemn his collaboration with the authorities, but this film allows us in to understand him further and think about if we were in his position, Standfield captures this vulnerability quite well.
Kaluuya, who I've struggled to connect with as an actor, is someone else entirely here as Fred Hampton, playing him with dignity and charisma.
While the film never breaks him entirely out of the legendary mold, it does try and often succeed in bringing him down to earth.
Kaluuya pulls off a surprisingly good American accent.
Martin Sheen is unrecognizable as a grotesque version of J Edgar Hoover.
In addition to not entirely succumbing to the maudlin traps of the Hollywood biopic, this film is genuinely leftist, sincerely is so, this is no feel good fantasy story for normie American liberals to basically feel better about themselves.
When the film does cover the violent direction the history went, it feels bleak rather than simply sensationalist.
The cancel culturists, twitterati, angry mobs of today might do well to look back on and take a page from Angela Davis and Fred Hampton.
We actually have an American doing a movie about an American Marxist.
It also shows more of the panthers than the cool and violent image we're used to seeing, although this is factored in aswell.
Albeit the cliff notes nature of the American biopic is maintained and when you get to the postscript, you're asking yourself, there was basically a whole extra 40 minutes of a movie we basically weren't given.
Emotionally satisfying and engaging, although I would have been content with more.
One would be advised to couple this as a companion piece with the documentary "The murder of Fred Hampton".

Verdict: *** 1/2

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