theriverjordan’s review published on Letterboxd:
“Judas and the Black Messiah” accomplishes with complete excellence exactly what it sets out to achieve.
It’s a film that should stoke righteous indignation, even anger, for the harmful actions taken by institutions set up to protect American citizens. And it does that, with tactful elegance, in spades.
Its victory as an essential piece of revolutionary messaging does not, though, exclude “Messiah” from structural fallibilities that keep it from being a great film, in addition to the resounding call to action that it is.
Director and co-screenwriter Shaka King imbues “Messiah” with a powerful visual eloquence. The sense of time, place, and societal urgency speak where the characters of the film themselves, cannot.
King’s fervency and ambition at making “Messiah” speak a dire message comes at the expense of turning each of the film’s actors into figureheads, instead of individuals. Each of the roles represents essentially a varying side to a Socratic debate on the events presented. It leaves little room for the unique inner conflicts each person no doubt possessed.
Fortunately, “Messiah” possesses a roster of supremely talented actors, whose charismatic command somewhat makes up for a lack of motivations besides the political. But “Messiah” in the end leaves its viewers enlightened as to an essential aspect of history - at the expense of leaving the people behind it still in the enigmatic shadows of the past.