March 2021 Volume 4, Issue 2
“Judas and the Black Messiah” is a must-watch historical film that effectively tells the overlooked and true story of American activist, Fred Hampton, and his assassination.
A strong cast and an exciting up-and-coming director help bring this true story to film. The pairing of our actors, Daniel Kaluuya and Lakeith Stanfield, with director Shaka King, feels reminiscent of the early days of fellow trio Martin Scorcese, Robert De Niro, and Joe Pesci.
Kaluuya charismatically portrays Fred Hampton and helps bring this real-life figure to the screen. He nails the several activist speeches we see Fred Hampton give throughout the film and helps bring out the character’s humanity.
Lakieth Stanfield successfully portrays an FBI informant that infiltrates the chapter of the Black Panther Party that Kaluuya’s character leads.
Stanfield is playing a complex character that the audience may find themselves rooting against but still empathizing with him. The actor helps bring an understanding to the real-life figure of William O’Neal and his situation.
Shaka King is the writer and director of this film who is having his breakthrough moment. He has successfully taken this true tragedy and created a biographical film that will be seen as classic years from now.
The story that King brings to the screen of the targeting of Fred Hampton by the FBI is an important story that many will find themselves unaware of previously. The film feels particularly relevant in today’s climate.
This film features many successful dramatic beats along with several other tense moments. Shaka King has truly created a film that harkens to the great films of Martin Scorsese but also blazes a new path forward for himself.
The film does an excellent job of showing how the FBI manipulated a young black man to take down a rising black activist, whom they treated as a domestic terrorist. A truly interesting and disturbing true story that again is necessary historical viewing for everyone.
“Judas and the Black Messiah” has been a strong contender this awards season. Daniel Kaluuya and Lakeith Stanfield are nominated for supporting actor Academy Awards. Shaka King received two Oscar nominations himself for screenplay and best picture. Along with two other Oscar nominations (cinematography and best song), brings the film’s total to six.