Judas and the Black Messiah

Judas and the Black Messiah ★★★½

Effectively builds to its inevitably harrowing conclusion, offering up a vital and powerful testament to Fred Hampton and what he stood and fought for. Daniel Kaluuya plays him with a transcendent presence, an energy that propels the film’s somewhat conventional structure and reminds us of what an exceptional talent he is. Lakeith Stanfield has an arguably trickier task, playing the slippery undercover agent tasked at infiltrating the Black Panthers, mining both disgust and empathy equally.

While it sometimes feels like the script is working against the undeniably strong direction and acting work, as the film must balance its biographic intent with contemporary political discourse, this isn’t to say that it doesn’t come together by the end. Indeed, its coda packs a heavy punch as we bring ourselves back to the ongoing struggle for racial justice in these precarious times. 

This is a strong film that deserves all of our attention. It’s an impressive and assured piece of filmmaking that both narrates the past while speaking to the present with a potent and confident vision.

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