Judas and the Black Messiah ★★★½

BLACK HISTORY MONTH 2020: FILM #9

In many ways, Judas and the Black Messiah reminded me of Spike Lee’s Malcolm X, and that isn’t just because they’re both biopics that take place within the same time period of history. They felt somewhat similar in terms of their structure as well, although that might just be because the subject matters of these two movies share a lot of similarities. That doesn’t mean that Shaka King copied Spike Lee, though, because his direction in Judas and the Black Messiah made this dramatization of the events leading up to the assassination of Fred Hampton feel powerful and moving.

Aside from King’s direction, I thought that the best aspect of Judas and the Black Messiah was the acting. Both Lakeith Stanfield and Daniel Kaluuya gave terrific performances, with Kaluuya capturing the passion and selflessness of Hampton especially well. Other than the direction and the acting, though, I can’t really say that very much about this movie stuck out to me, although this is still a well told, well directed, and well acted biopic overall. I think it might be my issues with how uneven the film is when it comes to trying to tell both Hampton’s story and O’Neal’s story at the same time, as it bounces back and forth between heavy doses of each of their lives rather than just going bit by bit.

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