Easily the best film I have seen in a long time, “Judas and the Black Messiah” is one to remember.
The movie follows Fred Hampton (Daniel Kaluuya), the deputy chairman of the Black Panther Party, in the days leading up to his brutal assassination during a police raid.
Daniel Kaluuya delivers an astounding performance as Hampton, arguably his best one to date. Kaluuya is most known for his role in “Get Out” (2017). Kaluuya delivers his performance with such power and grace that it is impossible not to be enthralled by him. He dominates the screen and brings light to a life whose truth has too long been kept in the dark.
Lakeith Stanfield’s ability to play his role of conflicted FBI informant Bill O’Neal with such nuance is truly remarkable. Stanfield also stars in “Get Out” (2017), as well as being the lead in “Sorry to Bother You” (2018). Both of these are fantastic performances. However, I feel that what Stanfield does with his portrayal of O’Neal is something truly special.
Director Shaka King deserves equal praise for his work on this movie. This being his first feature film, I was surprised at how seamless each scene flowed to the next, while still remaining singular and important on its own.
Going into the movie, I had little to no knowledge of the Black Panther Party other than what was taught in my high school history classes.
Due to this, at first, I was silently praising King for skipping over the “early life” section of biopics that so often lead to slow moving films. I thought that it was refreshing to be able to start right off the bat with the important and notable parts of the life of who I was watching a movie about. As it turns out, this was equally devastating. The “early life” section was exactly what was being shown on screen. Hampton was only 21-years-old at the time of his assassination. Hampton never had the chance to have an “early life” because in reality that was his only life.
The lines of text that show up at the end of the film, typical of any biopic, are particularly gut-wrenching. The startling truth that has been hidden from us in our education is quite upsetting and disappointing to witness. The lengths the government will go to in order to suppress minorities is heartbreaking. If nothing else, this movie serves as an advocate for and reminder to educate yourself outside of just what you are taught by others.
“Judas and the Black Messiah” goes to great lengths to emphasize its message and make the voices of the silenced heard. The performances are all solid, especially Kaluuya and Stanfield’s, and the pacing never feels off. It is a true masterpiece as well as an honest tragedy.
It’s hard to find anything to complain about with a movie that has such a strong message showcased in such a gripping way and showcases such emotional performances from its cast. This should likely get some attention from The Academy. If it doesn’t, they’re blind.
I would recommend this movie to anyone and everyone. It is important and it is relevant. The performances by the cast are astonishing and the story is compelling. This movie is equal parts devastating and impactful. I couldn’t look away even if I wanted to. “Judas and the Black Messiah” is in theaters now and is streaming on HBO Max until March 14. Don’t miss this one; you’ll surely regret it.
The views expressed are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of The Torch.