“Anywhere there’s people, there’s power.”
What makes JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH so special is the sad reminder that “the badge is (still) scarier than the gun.”
Shaka King takes stylistic inspiration from Spike Lee and delivers a biopic about racism in the 60s, which audiences today can easily parallel to the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. Daniel Kaluuya turns in an Oscar worthy performance as the Black Panther leader, Fred Hampton. He humanizes him in the quiet moments, portraying him as an unexpected community leader. It’s riveting to watch Hampton question the bigger challenges of the Panthers and it’s similar to what the Republican party should be asking, “is the party about me or about the people?”
Adding to the Oscar worthy performances is the always mesmerizing Lakeith Stanfield. He plays the closest thing to a protagonist, William O'Neal, who infiltrated the Panthers while working undercover for the FBI.
Despite some narrative flaws in the second act, this is raw, powerful and emotional cinema at its best. It should have audiences not just shouting, “I am a revolutionary!” after viewing it, but also wanting to take action. And if you are wondering where to take action, here's the link.
It is available 12-February on HBO Max.