Judas and the Black Messiah Review

*This is a true story…

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IMDB Synopsis

Offered a plea deal by the FBI, William O’Neal infiltrates the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party to gather intelligence on Chairman Fred Hampton.

“Politics is war without bloodshed”

A movie that is relevant to the surrounding world is an interesting idea. A lot of times like something like The Social Network, it is something that can resonate in the world and people can relate to in a good way. Other times like Judas and the Black Messiah, you are struck that this movie is still so relevant when it absolutely should not be. The ideas that Fred Hampton (Daniel Kaluuya) was instilling in his Illinois Chapter of The Black Panthers, are the same thoughts and ideas we are still discussing about racism in our country today. That was definitely what struck me most when I flipped on HBO Max to watch this new biopic.

The other aspect of the film that struck was the performances of all involved. Of course I will talk about it in Stocks but the actors just brought you right into this world and never let you out. As I discussed in Chicago 7, I live in Chicago and seeing the history of my current city excites me but also makes me sad. In the movie Hampton is telling his followers that Chicago is more segregated than cities like Shreveport, Birmingham, and Montgomery. That on some level again is still true today and it is so interesting how things can change so much in 50 years but yet change so little. Fred Hampton was 21 years old and had more wisdom and leadership in his body than most of us have in a lifetime. So to see his Judas Bill O’Neill (Lakeith Stanfield) get so close to him knowing how that story ends was incredibly sad.

Bill has been assigned to Fred by FBI Agent Roy Mitchell (Jesse Plemons) after he stole a car and impersonated a federal officer. However, the story is mainly about how Bill started to have second thoughts about everything after learning to respect and trust Fred. He was just so stuck by what he had done that he did not know how to get himself out. This clearly was something that ate at him his entire life because of the way he talked about it in the one interview he gave. That interview was cleverly thrown in throughout the movie with Lakeith of course playing the character.

When you watch the movie play out though the tension is so prevalent in every scene and Shaka King, the director, is able to keep you on the edge of your seat even if you may know what is coming. When you get to see Fred though bringing together Puerto Ricans, White Gangs, and Black Gangs around the city to form the Rainbow Coalition, it is truly inspiring. They did not care what color you were it was all about just fighting for the right to live as a human. But of course the corruption that has plagued our nation forever reared its ugly head and Hampton became a major target with the FBI.

Stock Watch

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Stock Up – Daniel Kaluuya

There is zero doubts about it, this man is a Superstar. Every role he plays he owns every second of screen time and that is absolutely the case in this one as well. He gives powerful speech after powerful speech and disappears into the role of Fred. The only thing I can say is that he does seem a little bit older than 21 years old, but who cares he nailed the role and deserves an Oscar nomination.

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Stock Neutral – Lakeith Stanfield

Lakeith is one of the best actors working today and his resume keeps getting better and better. The last time we talked about him was The Photograph, and damn is this role not completely different. To watch him go from Romantic Drama, to Racial Biopic is impressive. The work he has to do in this is so subtle because he has to play the Judas character, however you can tell he is extremely conflicted the entire time. Him and Daniel were a perfect match after their “encounter” in Get Out.

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*Who’s That Guy/Gal?

Martin Sheen – 257 IMDB Acting Credits

First off, Martin Sheen what a career and what a legendary work ethic. Normally someone like him would never be in this category, but this is a literal Who’s That Guy? He was completely unrecognizable as J. Edgar Hoover and arguably was the antagonist of the film. What a legend this man is still doing it at 80.

Image result for judas and the black messiah sheen

*A couple other tidbits

  • Jesse Plemons literally shows up in everything now a days and he is great every time. I love the variety of choices he continues to make.
  • The cutting between the recreated Bill O’Neill interview throughout the movie was such a smart touch.
  • Lil Rel!!!

This is easily the best movie of the year to come out so far and again the fact that these movies just show up on streaming services is stunning. This movie should be competing for numerous Oscars and it is a movie that really parallels our current climate. Fred Hampton’s story is one that everyone should know because it shows that corruption has been ongoing in our country for a long, long time.

Juice Rating:

*You can find my 2021 Movie Rankings here.

*You can find all of my Movie Ratings here.

*You can follow my Letterboxd account here.

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