Judas and the Black Messiah Movie Review: A tale of Panthers, Pigs and Moles

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Video Source – Warner Bros. Pictures (Warner Bros. Pictures YouTube Channel)

Judas and the Black Messiah is a 2021 American biographical drama film about the betrayal of Fred Hampton, chairman of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party in late-1960s Chicago, at the hands of William O’Neal, an FBI informant. Both infuriating and saddening, this true tale portrays the traumatic birth of Black Panthers. 

Judas and the Black Messiah Movie Cast

  • Daniel Kaluuya as Fred Hampton
  • LaKeith Stanfield as William O’Neal
  • Jesse Plemons as Roy Mitchell
  • Dominique Fishback as Deborah Johnson

Judas and the Black Messiah Movie Plot

The plot revolves around the formation of the Black Panther’s Organization with Fred Hampton as their leader. His ideals pave way for a revolution and the authorities are not happy about it. So they send William O’Neal, a mole, to infiltrate the organization and gather information which will be helpful in neutralizing their actions. However, William’s actions bring havoc to his morals which ultimately result in a catastrophe. 

Judas and the Black Messiah Movie Review

“You can murder a revolutionary, but you can’t murder a revolution.” Judas and the Black Messiah is the story of the incident or the series of incidents that fueled the actions of the Black Panther Organization in USA. Based on a true story, this movie feels like a true to heart depiction of the plight of a people. It’s the beginning of a revolution, presented in a way which is unfiltered and unbarred. 

Fred Hampton, played by Daniel Kaluuya, is the chairman of the Black Panther Association. A man of actions, yet his words are what move people the most. His principles are the ground basis of Black Panthers and his stand on oppression and rebellion is rooted in a sense of peaceful morality. Even when his words are aggravating, his passion for people and socialism transcends the need for violence.

William O’Neal, played by LaKeith Stanfield, is an unfortunate bystander who ultimately gets mixed in the crossfire between the Panthers and the pigs (cops). His survival and freedom comes at the cost of being a mole for the police and extracting information from the panthers. This is as much a story of Black Panthers and Fred, as it is of William, a previously inconsequential character who let a domino of unrest lose. 

In a still from Judas and the Black Messiah Movie

Judas and the Black Messiah Movie: A tragedy brought to life by the performances

Both these performances assert a serious amount of dominance in the entire movie. Kaluuya, arguably, gives his best performance till date. The amount of energy he conjures into bringing this man alive is purely phenomenal. Watching him provoke and inspire people through his words and speeches constantly sent shivers down my spine. His influence is crystal clear in the movie, much like how Fred Hampton’s was in the Black Panthers Organization. Lakeith Stanfields portrayal of a mule naturally reminded me a lot of Dicaprio in The Departed.

However, this definitely doesn’t mean that his performance comes off as derivative. We see this character develop a bond towards the Panthers and their cause as the movie progresses. His motivations consecutively derail him from his blurred sense of righteousness and one can feel the raw pain and dissatisfaction, knowing that there is no redemption ahead. 

Judas and the Black Messiah Movie: An Unfiltered Depiction by Shakha King

This biography brings out the most unfathomable circumstances with all out liberty and dedication towards history. It never deliberately praises the actions of either side, but rather gives the viewer the context. Without forcing an opinion on someone, the script establishes its stance through incitements and the circumstances behind those incitements. It shows people crossing a line while making the viewer aware of the line’s existence. 

Judas and the Black Messiah is bound to provoke a retrospection after the very first viewing. It is as much an informative cinematic as it is a thrilling and tragedy induced trip. It sets out the facts as they were, not with the intention of an altercation of opinions, but to merely change the perspectives altogether. Shakha King is true to the source and to the struggles, and it is through and through prominent in his latest feature. 

Judas and the Black Messiah Movie Critical reception

Judas and the Black Messiah stands at 96% with the consensus stating ” An electrifying dramatization of historical events, Judas and the Black Messiah is a forceful condemnation of racial injustice — and a major triumph for its director and stars”

The Metascore is a solid 86, with universal acclaim based on 47 critic reviews. 

The Movie Culture Synopsis

Judas and the Black Messiah is an impactful victory for everyone involved in the movie. It is also a major triumph for the Panthers who are now finally being seen in a different limelight.

The one that provides actions and the stories behind those actions. It’s a relevant piece of art that deserves to be seen and witnessed in its full glory.

Author

  • Hardik is a Mumbai based writer who is a cinephile. Nothing interests him more than movies and visual entertainment. His other hobbies include reading and singing (At least, he likes to think that he sings well). You can connect with him on his Instagram.