Judas and the Black Messiah: Movie Review - Reel Advice Movie Reviews

Saturday, April 3, 2021

Judas and the Black Messiah: Movie Review

There has been countless films that have tackled the issue of racism but never have we seen it tackled in such a complex manner. There are clearly good guys and bad guys in this story but there's also the in-between that we have never considered before. Coupled with great cinematography and powerful acting, "Judas and the Black Messiah" will be a film that definitely leaves a mark for its viewers.
 
Bill (Lakeith Stanfield) is a petty criminal who gets caught trying to steal a car. As fate would have it, the FBI is trying to find a way to infiltrate the Black Panther Party and thinks Bill is the perfect scape goat. Bill is offered by Agent Roy Mitchell (Jesse Plemons) the chance for his charges to be dropped by becoming an undercover informant for the Bureau - which he accepts. He is specifically assigned to monitor Fred Hampton (Daniel Kaluuya) who leads the Illinois chapter of the party. Bill soon discovers that the stakes are not only high, not only dangerous, but will test his own moralities and convictions as a human being.
"Judas and the Black Messiah" was just fantastic from first second to last. Rarely does a film have our attention from start to finish in a very intense way but we found our eyes literally glued to the screen while watching it. At the forefront was the superb acting from its cast. Lakeith Stanfield was our easy favorite as he was able to come out natural and believable as the nervous, unsure, and unsettled William O'Neal. Daniel Kaluuya comes close as the moving, riveting, and captivating Fred Hampton. His speeches in particular was raw and powerful that you have to experience it to know what we mean. 
The narrative was well-paced and well-developed but had some rough patches especially in maintaining a semblance of time progression - which is our only issue with the film in all honesty and maybe due to its limited two hour running time. The character of Bill O'Neal in particular was the perfect vehicle for the film's main point. Typically we cast characters as protagonoists or antagonists, good or bad. But Bill in particular had a conflicted narrative that gives audiences a chance to experience and see that reality really isn't black and white. Yes, his actions were simply devious but what would you have done if you were in his shoes? Critically, in a more contemporary setting, the film can easily serve as a warning sign on how those in power can easily target, manipulate, and execute those they deem their enemies. While it seems history is already repeating itself in many countries, hopefully it won't be too late for those being opressed.  
Rating: 4 and a half reels






Why you should watch it:
- had gripping and career best performances from its cast
- the story was well-paced and well-executed

Why you shouldn't watch it:
- the two hour running time felt limiting

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