This film isn’t “revolutionary” by any means but its damn good storytelling. Judas and the Black Messiah follows the footsteps of the man who infiltrated and sabotaged the Black Panther Party. It’s become a recent trend in Hollywood, to explore the perspective of the villain or antagonist. Therein lies the success of this enthralling tale of betrayal. LaKeith Stanfield stars as Bill O’Neal and Daniel Kaluuya as Fred Hampton.
There is a ton of talent in this cast, I don’t think there’s one actor I didn’t recognize. The supporting characters serve as trials constantly testing Stanfield’s loyalty and resolve. He is often put in expendable situations by the FBI, which ratchets up the tension. This is balanced by the emotional scenes between Hampton and his love interest Deborah, played by Dominique Fishback. She challenges his rhetoric, while remaining supportive. It was a nice change of pace outside the action.
Kaluuya’s performance as Hampton is electric! He really does embody the charisma of the character. The dynamic between him and Stanfield are almost identical. One is notorious, gradually increasing his influence while the other is in the shadows, doing the same through underhanded methods. It was like watching a turn-based tactical game in real-time. For those informed about the history of the Black Panthers, you know how it ends, but the journey there is worth the price of admission. Judas and the Black Messiah gets a 7.5 out of 10.