Movie Review: Judas and the Black Messiah (2021)

Anywhere there is people, there is power.

-fred hampton-

See New Things, Learn New Things

Fred Hampton was part of the Black Panther Party. The same one that J. Edgar Hoover saw as a threat to American society. Hampton was born and died in Chicago at the age of 21 in 1969. The person who passed information to the FBI about Hampton’s whereabouts was William O’Neal. He died at the age of 40 in Chicago by suicide in 1990. The FBI agent who took orders from J. Edgar Hoover and used O’Neal as informant was Roy Mitchell who died in 2000 at the age of 66. The writers are Will Berson and Shaka King that is based on a story by Kenny and Keith Lucas. Judas and the Black Messiah is directed by Shaka King. The main cast is Daniel Kaluuya as Fred Hampton (won an Oscar for his role), Lakeith Stanfield as Bill O’Neal, Jesse Plemons as Roy Mitchell, Dominque Fishback as Deborah Johnson, Darrell Britt-Gibson as Bobby Rush, and Martin Sheen as J. Edgar Hoover. It is rated R and is 2 hours and 6 minutes long.

The Breakdown of Judah and the Black Messiah

Judah and the Black Messiah is about Fred Hampton’s relationship with Bill O’Neal and both their roles in the Black Panther Party. Where Hampton is the leader of an Illinois chapter, O’Neal made a deal with the FBI to keep him out of prison. As their relationship grows, it puts an even bigger target on both their backs. The BPP grows suspicious of most everyone and does what it needs to ensure their safety, especially when their organization is threatened. O’Neal is in a situation he desperately tries to get out of although money is a powerful motivator and puts himself in even greater jeopardy. His inability to say no for obvious reasons ultimately gets Hampton killed. The conflicts between the FBI/Police and the BPP continues. Many die on both sides. The tragedy of Hampton is the way he died. The tragedy of O’Neal is the way he also died. While this story is about two men whose lives are forever intertwined, you can’t have one without the other, it was also about the cost of personal choices and responsibilities.

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Overall View of Judah and the Black Messiah

There are many different parts in the American fabric of society. It is complex and raw and deep. The battles and fights and disagreements among people are bound to happen because of the varying populations that make up the U.S. While we all breath oxygen and food to live, it seems that’s the only thing Americans we have in common. The best part of this movie was what it didn’t do. There was not the portrayal of Hampton or O’Neal in such a way that made you favor one over the other. The power imbalance between the FBI and BPP was not sugarcoated. Even after Hampton and O’Neal’s deaths, resolution only existed in bits and pieces for the survivors. I thought how much has and hasn’t changed over the years when I watch these kinds of movies. It probably was the million dollar question in 1990, but now it’s the billion dollar question in 2021. How much has American society changed? What percentage has been worn down to the point of falling away? How much of it do we need to hang onto for our longevity? Why do we believe in the things we do and say and for what purpose?

Judah and the Black Messiah gets FOUR FINGERS and ONE THUMB of 95%

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