The Stream: Even at 2 hours, it feels a tad long.
The Big Screen: A charismatic performance by Daniel Kaluuya explodes off the screen.
The Final Bill: A powerful story led by a powerful leading man.– S2S: Movie Review and Trip Fontaine
Director: Shaka King
Writers: Will Berson (Screenplay by), Shaka King (screenplay by) | 2 more credits »
Stars: Daniel Kaluuya, LaKeith Stanfield, Jesse Plemons | See full cast & crew »
Genre: Biography, Drama, History
Runtime: 2 hours
Platform: In theaters Feb. 12, 2021 and HBO MAX
Long awaited and long overdue, Stream To Big Screen finally gets a chance to watch Judas and the Black Messiah. When the trailer for Judas and the Black Messiah premiered last summer, the expectations from just those two minutes were set very high. Does the feature live up to the hype created by that dynamic trailer? Here’s how it goes. The synopsis of the movie is as follows: Fred Hampton (Daniel Kaluuya), a young, charismatic activist, becomes Chairman of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party. Bill O’Neal (LaKeith Stanfield), a low-level car thief, gets caught impersonating an FBI agent and is used to infiltrate the Black Panthers. As Hampton’s influence grows, pressure from the FBI overtakes O’Neal and leaves him to make some fateful decisions.
S2S: I mean wow. This is the film that was needed in 2020 and the one the people deserved to watch given the events of this past year (both culturally and politically). By that I mean, 2021 is starting off with a quality film; and just in time for the Academy Award season. Why do I say that? Sometimes to see where the country is going or needs to go, we have to remember where it has been. In the time of George Floyd and countless others, it’s important to remember the US has always been in the business of killing black folks! “Good coloreds,” “bad blacks” and “urban hoodlums” were all treated the same by our government. They have not been for us. So let’s start there because acknowledging the problem is the first step to resolution. They (meaning the government and those in charge) have used black people in this country for hundreds of years, for their profit and for our own destruction. Your skin-folk ain’t your kinfolk but your kinfolk is also only trying to survive as well. But let’s not go there because this movie went there for us and the cast showed this strongly.
Trip: Yes, Judas and the Black Messiah has inherent relevance to 2021 American culture considering all that’s gone on in the last year. The film as directed by Shaka King takes care to show how the Black Panther Party, and Fred Hampton in particular, was more than some militant, anarchic political radicals, but that there was a deep connection to the need for social and economic justice across racial lines. We see Hampton going to various groups to build his Rainbow Coalition. The charisma exuded in Danial Kaluuya’s performance is essential to the success of this movie because without it we wouldn’t understand why the FBI and U.S. Government were so afraid of Hampton. I’ll also note that LaKeith Stanfield is very good, as he usually is. Stanfield has the more difficult part in that O’Neal, ultimately is not a sympathetic character because he’s the turncoat. However, Stanfield does well to show that O’Neal has no good choices – he potentially loses his life and freedom whichever decision he makes. Other than that, I’d say Judas and the Black Messiah is a top notch biopic, hitting the highlights and transporting us back to such a volatile time through its style and performance.
Trip: Judas and the Black Messiah is a must see film. The central performances are stellar, especially Kaluuya, and so, if you only see it for that, it is worth the price of admission. Yes, this is a big box of popcorn, sit back and enjoy.
S2S: I must agree with everything that Trip said. I mean wow. Judas and the Black Messiah is a big box of fresh popcorn and that’s all I have to say about that. You can kill the movie reviewer but you can’t kill this movie.