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(film review) - Judas and the Black Messiah

This guy can do no wrong!  To whom do I speak of?  Ryan? Lakeith? Daniel? At this rate, it is a matter of rephrasing that sentence to, these guys can do no wrong!  Although Ryan Coogler was not the director and he has been the director of such great, great movies like, Fruitvale Station, Creed, Black Panther and these are the ONLY 3 movies he has directed, Ryan was the producer of this movie so he helped to make it happen.  For only directing 3 short films then 3 major full-length films which have catapulted Ryan into the stratosphere to be approached and to sign a 5 year deal with Disney, speaks volumes even the deaf can hear.  3 for 3? Ryan is Talented!
Lakeith, such a talented actor! First noted to me by his role in the film 'Get Out' ALSO starring Daniel Kaluuya, such a well written movie, well acted movie and not only did it put Lakeith more on the map, but also gave him more opportunities to act in more roles as this guy IS simply great at his job.  Unfortunately where I hadn't seen Selma, Straight Outta Compton (although I heard 'the guy playing Snoop Doggy Dog is great'), his role in Purge: Anarchy didn't stick with me, but then again, nor did the film, but his role in Knives Out was great. Among an all-star cast, Lakeith held is own and well.
Daniel! Daniel stuck out to me from a TV series called Black Mirror.  His role in that show felt weird, but he was soo so good.  I recognised him as Black Death in Kick-Ass 2 but it was his work on 'Get Out' that people were asking who this guy was.  Daniel has been in great film after great film after great film.  Sicario, Black Panther, Widows (although not so great but he was great in it), Queen and Slim and now this, Daniel is becoming a household name securing his spot in Black Hollywood.  I'm guessing having said that, it goes without saying, this movie is a great watch...yes, of course it is!

Fred Hampton (Daniel Kaluuya) was a real life person who was the Chairman of the Chicago Black Panther Party.  In 1969, Fred Hampton was killed in his sleep in a secret Police raid in which a former head of security personnel for Fred, William O'Neal (Lakeith Stanfield), worked as an infiltrator and informant to FBI agent Roy Martin Mitchell.  This film is a biographical Drama of the last 3 years before Fred Hampton's Murder at the age of 21.
This movie explores the role of Fred Hampton in the Black Panther Party, his beliefs, his ideologies and what he wanted to do.  This film also explores the role of William O'Neal and his infiltration into the party, how he gained trust and ultimately had Fred Hampton killed.

As long as I have been alive, the Black Panther Party has ALWAYS been shown as a black militia.  My understanding has always been from what I had seen in pictures, videos and in film.  Black men and women standing in formation brandishing entirely black clothing with black berets and holding guns.  It was understood that the police did not like them and that they often caused trouble for the police.  I understood they were a type of group of people, a political party who were for black people fighting against the injustices of black people in those hard times, but I was never taught in school about what they did, how they did it or why.  Even if you wiki the Black Panther Party, it will tell you that they were Anti-fascism, Anti-imperialism, Anti-racism, Anti-capitalism and for African-American leftism, Black nationalism, Revolutionary socialism, Black pride & Gun rights (the last obviously for defence of self).

The acting is superb by both Lakeith and Daniel whilst Dominique Fishback supporting helped to ground the movie showing us the dynamics of life in that era, the politics and the love, passion and also the unselfish spirit of whom Fred was.  A scene seen in the trailer, Fred is giving a speech, and while he is giving this speech as powerful as it is, Dominique sheds a tear as you fully understand as to why she is caught up in her feelings.  Fred was a man for the people essentially by the people.  If you are able to read between the lines, Roy (Jesse Plemons), along with William were simply puppets to a bigger agenda.  Whilst one was simply doing his job, the other was doing for self.  The film also highlights the callous behaviours of J.Edgar Hoover and the FBI at this time.

This film is heavy emotionally, but manages to ease the weight of digestion with the narrative, dialogue and performances.  The performances were outstanding.  I found myself often saying over and over in my head and sometimes out aloud about Daniel's performance, 'He's soo good'.  They manage to get the point across without hitting you over the head with it, so well done Shaka King for the excellent Directing.  By the end of the movie, you will understand that not all members of the Black Panther Party were militant and there were other factions out there of whom were or seemed a lot worse.

Writing this review was difficult for me because, being black and having not lived in that era but understanding the ordeals black people had to go through at that time AND because black people are still suffering to this very day in 2021, it hurts my soul.  Granted, back then could be deemed more extreme, but I'm sure there is an argument to be made.  During a pandemic in 2020, Black and non-black people alike came together to support one another on Police Brutality, on George Floyd who was killed on camera in front of people in the street like a dog.  Breonna Taylor who was killed at her home in her sleep.  Soo much injustice and to think that Black people, even having endured all they have endured across generations, whilst nothing can be said about jews and anti-semitism, at least they can come together as a community for their people, Fred and countless others have tried and tried to band us together, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King just to name a few, but just like Fred, they are killed.  It's just upsetting.  The film doesn't weigh you down like I probably have, so go watch it, it's a great film!



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