Movie Reviews

Published on February 2nd, 2021 | by gareth


Judas And The Black Messiah Is A very Well-Crafted Film That Is Equally informative And Disturbing

Racism has all too often reared its ugly head in recent years with the rise of extremist groups who felt emboldened by recent political climates. As violence leads to protests which can themselves become violent; the perpetual cycle seems unending.

In the new film “Judas and the Black Messiah”, audiences are told the real-life story of Fred Hampton (Daniel Kaluuya) who runs a local chapter of The Black Panthers in Illinois in the 1960s.

The rise of what is perceived as militant groups in the wake of the killings of Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King has caused increased police and Federal actions which have caused many in Hampton’s community to feel they are at war with the authorities and fighting for their very survival against a system of injustice and systemic racism.

When car thief William O’Neal is arrested, FBI agent Roy Mitchell (Jesse Plemons); offers O’Neal a chance to avoid prison and earn some money by becoming an informant. Despite his reservations; O’Neal works his way into Hampton’s inner circle and develops a friendship with the man as he learns of his plans to unify the various factions in their communities.

O’Neal sees how there is more to the Black Panthers as they feed, educate, and assist members of their community and work to contain more extreme elements that look to make statements through bombings and extreme actions.

The threat posed by Hampton draws the attention of FBI Director J Edgar Hoover (Martin Sheen), and plans are developed to take down Hampton and his organization which in turn puts even more pressure on Mitchell and O’Neal.

The movie is a gripping, disturbing, and sure to be controversial look into the lives of the key figures as well as the ongoing debates on racial injustice, police violence, hate groups, and violence in the community.

Director Shaka King attempts to find a balance in the film as there are moments where party members draw their weapons against the police and kill wounded officers. There are also numerous scenes where police beat and shoot unarmed individuals or use excessive force which underscores Hampton’s stance that his community is at war and this is a life or death struggle.

The last time I was so disturbed by a film of this genre was “Detroit” which shocked me with the horrific true crimes that were portrayed and how those involved escaped justice. I thought if as a Caucasian I could be so disturbed and disgusted by the terrifying events portrayed in the film; then they would be truly the stuff of nightmares for people of color.

The cast is very strong and gives memorable performances that show the complexity of their characters. They are not simply a militant and a snitch, but rather complex individuals trying to survive.

“Judas and the Black Messiah” is a very well-crafted film that is equally informative and disturbing and does what good cinema does best; educate, entertain, and inform.

4.5 stars out of 5


About the Author

Syndicated movie & game critic, writer, author and frequent radio guest. His work has appeared in over 60 publications worldwide and he is the creator of the rising entertainment site and publication “Skewed and Reviewed”. He has three books of film, game reviews and interviews published and is a well-received and in demand speaker on the convention circuit. Gareth has appeared in movies and is a regular guest on a top-rated Seattle morning show. He has also appeared briefly in films such as “Prefountaine”, “Postal”. “Far Cry”. and others. Gareth is also an in-demand speaker at several conventions and has conducted popular panels for over two decades.

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