JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH – A Review by Hollywood Hernandez
Judas and the Black Messiah is based on a true story about the FBI using informants to spy on civil rights organizations and use that illegally gotten information to try and discredit the group. Judas and the Black Messiah tells the story about an informant who, rather than go to jail for impersonating a law enforcement officer, decided to join the Black Panthers as a paid informant.
William O’Neal/”Judas” (LaKeith Stanfield) joins the Illinois Black Panthers and reports back to the FBI on the actions of the group’s charismatic leader, Fred Hampton, played by Daniel Kaluuya who starred in the 2017 thriller Get Out. Historically the movie deals with the racist attitude of FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, played by Martin Sheen, and his paranoid fear of any minority group yielding any kind of power, which he feared would undermine the country for white America. Fred Hampton was indeed a militant of the 60s. “I am a revolutionary” was the cry of Hampton and his goal was to overthrow any system of injustice. Fifty years later it’s clear that not much has changed in this country.
The film does a great job of showing the conflict between both O’Neal and Hampton. O’Neal wrestled with his demons about befriending the Black Panthers members and then, for huge sums of money, reporting their actions to the government. Hampton, the leader of the Chicago Black Panthers, had to follow two paths. One, as the leader of the sometimes violent Panthers organization, while also trying to survive for his fiancé (Deborah Johnson) and the child she was carrying.
Fred Hampton was killed in an FBI raid at his home while he slept at the age of 21. His wife, who survived the raid, gave birth to a son five months later. Judas and the Black Messiah is filled with the corruption of the FBI under Hoover’s command. It gives America a black eye for the government’s full-fledged war against minorities in this country. However, in the end, the movie has an uplifting message which is, “you can kill a revolutionary, but you can’t kill a revolution.”
The movie is rated R for violence and harsh language, and on my “Hollywood Popcorn Scale” I rate it a LARGE.