“Judas and the Black Messiah” Review

Story posted February 22, 2021 in Arts & Entertainment by Sam Roberts.

“Judas and the Black Messiah” premiered on HBO Max on Friday, Feb. 12 as part of the deal between Warner Brothers and HBO. This film tells a tragic story from a tragic time period in American history.

Written and directed by Shaka King, “Judas and the Black Messiah” is a story about revolution, fighting fire with fire and reaping what you sow.

King’s film stars LaKeith Stanfield as William O’Neal and Daniel Kaluuya as Black Panther chairman Fred Hampton, and both actors give beautiful performances for the entire two hours. The story follows Stanfield’s character, O’Neal, after he was arrested for grand theft auto and how the FBI used him as an undercover member of the Chicago chapter of the Black Panther Party.

He gets closer and closer with Fred Hampton and other party affiliates until Hampton meets his tragic end. O’Neal led the FBI to the house of Hampton, where he was shot once and then executed by a group of officers.

King tells the story in a really interesting way by following the character of William O’Neal and doing this allows him to show the duality between the Black Panther Party and the Law Enforcement. Jesse Plemons' character, FBI Agent Roy Mitchell, is the agent O’Neal reports to and he makes an interesting comparison between the Black Panther Party and the KKK.

He tells O’Neal: “The panthers and the klan are one in the same. They aim to show hatred and inspire terror.” The Black Panther party is shown as different from the klan when providing food for the children but shown as similar when they fight the cops with guns.

This film also dives deep into the perspective of a revolutionary in Hampton. Kaluuya shows off his range throughout the film and is truly inspiring the entire time.

“Judas and the Black Messiah” shows us what it’s like to unify the people to fight for something you believe in. A large message that the Black Panther Party spreads is socialism, and in the film, they unite African American Gangs, a Cuban activist group, and even a confederate group called the Rainbow Party all under the cause of equality.

This film is, in a true sense, a tragedy. Hampton meets his end when he is executed in his own home, and O’Neal is the reason for his death.

O’Neal gives the FBI information on where Hampton’s home is and was forced to draw up blueprints of the house as well. The tragedy is not only for Hampton, but O’Neal lived with that guilt for his whole life and he eventually committed suicide.

“Judas and the Black Messiah” is a very inspiring film with really strong lead characters. It tells a tragic story that any viewer will truly empathize with.

Rating: 4 /5


Sam Roberts is a junior majoring in telecommunications. To contact him, email sam.robertspsu00@gmail.com.