Judas and the Black Messiah is an extremely powerful film that tells the true story of a revolutionary and the betrayal that took him down.
Judas and the Black Messiah is a hard watch, but an important one, largely due to the fact that this country is still dealing with police brutality and racism. Based on parts of a true story, this movie depicts the story of Fred Hampton, a revolutionary, as well as the traitor that betrayed him, William O’Neal.
I have to be honest, going into this film I only knew very little about Fred Hampton and Willian O’Neal. These parts of history were skipped over in my school and I only learned about it recently. Actually it was after watching Trail of the Chicago 7. Fred Hampton has a small appearance in that movie and I became interested in his story. So I took to the interwebs to see what I could find out.
I am thankful for Judas and the Black Messiah because I feel like I got a more in depth look of this tragedy, and what forced hands on both sides of this story. There is a whole lot of oppression in this movie and that makes several moments hard to watch. Like really hard to watch. Unfortunately this film feels way too relevant. Which is because honestly, it is.
Dominique Fishback plays Fred’s lover, Deborah Johnson, who I adored in Netflix’s Power. She was the standout of that film, and one of them in Judas and the Black Messiah as well. This is a huge feat considering the topnotch actors she is starring with like Daniel Kaluuya (playing Fred Hampton) and LaKeith Stanfield (playing William O’Neal).
That being said, Kaluuya and Stanfield put on incredible performances as well. As does Jesse Plemons, who plays the FBI agent. Stanfield does an incredible job of showing an internal struggle that his character goes through toward the end of the film. After spending so much time with the charismatic Hampton he must have established a real friendship with him — or at least some kind of respect for him.
The score of this film does a fantastic job of elevating the truly emotional moments of this film. The finishing touches of including interview footage with the actual William O’Neal, along with what happened to him, was the perfect ending. I always appreciate when a movie about a true story includes things like that at the end or during the credits. It gives a lot more feeling to it.
Tragic is the best way to describe this movie and if you aren’t furious and shedding tears by the end of it, I don’t think you paid close enough attention.
Check out the best and most powerful Judas and the Black Messiah quotes.
About Judas and the Black Messiah
Fred Hampton’s cathartic words “I am a revolutionary” became a rallying call in 1969. As chairman of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party, Hampton demanded all power to the people and inspired a growing movement of solidarity, prompting the FBI to consider him a threat and to plant informant William O’Neal to infiltrate the party.
Judas and the Black Messiah not only recounts Hampton’s legacy and the FBI’s conspiring but also gives equal footing to the man who became infamous for his betrayal – highlighting the systems of inequality and oppression that fed both of their roles.
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Tessa Smith is a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer-approved Film and TV Critic. She is also a Freelance Writer. Tessa has been in the Entertainment writing business for almost ten years and is a member of several Critics Associations including the Hollywood Critics Association and the Greater Western New York Film Critics Association.