Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Judas and the Black Messiah Review: A Powerful and Relevant Piece of Cinema

Daniel Kaluuya	Daniel Kaluuya	...	Fred Hampton LaKeith Stanfield	LaKeith Stanfield	...	Bill O'Neal Jesse Plemons	Jesse Plemons	...	Roy Mitchell Dominique Fishback	Dominique Fishback	...	Deborah Johnson Ashton Sanders	Ashton Sanders	...	Jimmy Palmer Algee Smith	Algee Smith	...	Jake Winters Darrell Britt-Gibson	Darrell Britt-Gibson	...	Bobby Rush Lil Rel Howery	Lil Rel Howery	...	Wayne Dominique Thorne	Dominique Thorne	...	Judy Harmon Martin Sheen	Martin Sheen	...	J. Edgar Hoover Amari Cheatom	Amari Cheatom	...	Collins Khris Davis	Khris Davis	...	Steel Ian Duff	Ian Duff	...	Doc Satchel Caleb Eberhardt	Caleb Eberhardt	...	Bob Lee Robert Longstreet	Robert Longstreet	...	Leslie Carlyle

Release date: February 12, 2020
Running time: 126 minutes
Cast: Daniel Kaluuya, LaKeith Stanfield, Jesse Plemons, Dominique Fishback, Ashton Sanders, and Martin Sheen
Director:  Shaka King

FBI informant William O’Neal (LaKeith Stanfield) infiltrates the Illinois Black Panther Party and is tasked with keeping tabs on their charismatic leader, Chairman Fred Hampton (Daniel Kaluuya). A career thief, O’Neal revels in the danger of manipulating both his comrades and his handler, Special Agent Roy Mitchell (Jesse Plemons). Hampton’s political prowess grows just as he’s falling in love with fellow revolutionary Deborah Johnson (Dominique Fishback). Meanwhile, a battle wages for O’Neal’s soul. Will he align with the forces of good? Or subdue Hampton and The Panthers by any means, as FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover (Martin Sheen) commands?

Directed by  Shaka King	...	(directed by)Writing Credits   Will Berson	...	(screenplay by) & Shaka King	...	(screenplay by)   Kenneth Lucas	...	(story by) (as Kenny Lucas) & Keith Lucas	...	(story by)   Will Berson	...	co-producer Jason Cloth	...	executive producer Ryan Coogler	...	producer (p.g.a.) Zinzi Coogler	...	executive producer Ted Gidlow	...	executive producer Aaron L. Gilbert	...	executive producer Poppy Hanks	...	executive producer Charles D. King	...	producer (p.g.a.) Shaka King	...	producer (p.g.a.) Keith Lucas	...	co-producer Kenneth Lucas	...	co-producer Anikah McLaren	...	executive producer Ravi D. Mehta	...	executive producer Sev Ohanian	...	executive producer Kim Roth	...	executive producer Jeff Skoll	...	executive producerMusic by
Judas and the Black Messiah is based on historical events, and that is made clear from the start with a roll of classic footage that helps to place the film historically.  And then after that the film has a high energy opening that introduces you to Bill (Stanfield) and his predicament.  This scene--and the film overall--has a ton of 60s flair from the clothes, to the film style, to the general setting.  And throughout, Judas and the Black Messiah has an amazing soundtrack of avant garde jazz music that fits perfectly with the setting.

But what will really grab your attention in this film is the amazing acting.  Daniel Kaluuya is a revelation in this film, who completely transforms into Chairman Fred Hampton.  His mannerisms, his speech, his whole demeaner all channel this charismatic leader whose energy and beliefs started and fueled a movement.  And on the other side of him is LaKeith Stanfield, who is always amazing and is no different in this film.  Bill O'Neal is the main protagonist and you will have no trouble staying invested in his character as Stanfield gives a riveting performance that perfectly captures the difficult situation he is placed in as well as the inner conflict that starts to build inside of him.  And Jesse Plemons as Agent Roy Mitchell is another perfectly cast character who plays the manipulative agent perfectly.  And finally, Fishback is a charismatic foil and companion to Kaluuya, who is just as much of a revolutionary but has to take a back seat to the Chairman.

And the story of this film will keep you captivated for the entire two plus hours of this film.  It deals with such a turbulent and interesting time in America that you can't help but sit back and give into this high energy, high intrigue story.  And what is especially disturbing about this film is that it deals with systematic and calculated targeting of black individuals by a system that is trying to prevent their voices from being heard.  And while this film deals with a true conspiracy to target individuals, the pain and disenfranchisement that this caused these young activists has echoed for generations.  You can't help but think that it is these attitudes and abuses that have fueled many of the inequalities that are only now being talked about thanks to the Black Lives Matter movement.  In many ways, this film is a precursor to the turbulence and love that we experienced in 2020, and this film highlights why we can't just settle for the status quo, but must keep working.  It is also heart wrenching to think of what could have been accomplished by this young group of activists had they not been silenced so early.  And that whole process is documented perfectly in this amazing, powerful film that culminates in one of the most tense and shocking conclusions I have seen in cinema.

Judas and the Black Messiah is an amazing, powerful film that chronicles the short life of a charismatic leader, and highlights ideals and injustices that are still relevant today.

Watch it.

Movies Black Panthers Revolution BLM Black Lives Matter Racism Racist FBi
If you liked this review and want to see more from Watch or Pass, please consider 
following us on our various social media platforms: FacebookTwitterInstagramYoutube.   Judas and the Black Messiah Premieres in theaters and on HBO Max on Friday, February 12.
For showtimes, click here.

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