Title – Judas and the Black Messiah (2021)
Director – Shaka King (Newlyweeds)
Cast – LaKeith Stanfield, Daniel Kaluuya, Jesse Plemons, Dominique Fishback, Martin Sheen
Plot – After being threatened with prison time, Bill O’Neal (Stanfield) becomes an undercover F.B.I informant as he infiltrates the rising Black Panther party and builds a relationship with one of its most infamous and charismatic chairman, Fred Hampton (Kaluuya).
“Anywhere there is people, there is power”
Review by Eddie on 19/03/2021
The tragic story of charismatic Black Panther party chairman Fred Hampton isn’t a tale that is as well known to the general public as some of the other high profile activists of the late 60’s and 70’s but the true story of Hampton and one of his offsiders (also an F.B.I informant) Bill O’Neal makes for thrilling and important viewing in Shaka King’s feature.
Produced by Hollywood heavy hitter Ryan Coogler and starring two of the most promising young talents in the industry (both recently Oscar nominated for their turns here) in the form of Get Out star Daniel Kaluuya and the always interesting rapper turned actor LaKeith Stanfield, Judas and the Black Messiah is a top notch and quality production that works both as an insightful drama and an at times pulse-pounding thriller.
Filmed with an energy and verve that remains constantly moving throughout, King gets stuck straight into the meat of the tale as we follow Stanfield’s petty criminal with not much of a conscience O’Neal get sprung and offered the choice of jail-time or undercover work that will see him working for Jesse Plemon’s career thinking agent Roy Mitchell who wants to take down Kaluuya’s Hampton before the inspiring leader is able to build up too much of a following/army.
Most elements and side players take a back seat here to what is a commanding and awards worthy performance from Kaluuya who chews the scenery in a good way here as Hampton and whether his rallying his people via inspiring rallies or merely spending one on one time with those close to him, Kaluuya is magnetic here and wonderfully plays off a more subdued Stanfield who has a tricky task of playing the hard too read O’Neal but does so with aplomb as his free thinking and self-centered man begins to understand there are causes far greater than his at stake in this life he lives.
In what’s a major plus for the film, these characters remain the anchor to King’s tale throughout and Messiah never once feels as though its beginning to get overly preachy or agenda driven with King and his performers allowing this tale to speak for itself and in doing so, the heavy hits that lay in store for viewers hit harder and in a more personable way than other similar tales that lose sight of their heart and soul, making Messiah a unique feeling experience that tells a tale for a our now in a fresh way, delivered with a passion and integrity that should see it remain relevant for years yet to come.
Final Say –
A powerful dramatic thriller based in fact that features some quality performances and announces Shaka King to Hollywood and the world, Judas and the Black Messiah is fiery affair that engages from its opening frame right up until its sombre end.
4 stolen cars out of 5