Bill O’Neal infiltrates the Black Panther Party per FBI Agent Mitchell and J. Edgar Hoover. As Party Chairman Fred Hampton ascends, falling for a fellow revolutionary en route, a battle wages for O’Neal’s soul.
- Thought provoking storyline , that will have you engaged through out the duration of the movie.
- Great performances by Daniel Kaluuya (Fred Hampton) and LaKeith Stanfield (Bill O’Neal) .
Fred Hampton: Politics is war without bloodshed while war is politics with bloodshed.
Fred Hampton: Because we’ve grown so accustomed to being poor, we think it’s normal for our kids to go to school hungry. We think it’s normal for us to go to the hospital with a runny nose, and come home in a body bag. So our job as the Black Panther Party is to heighten the contradictions.
Fred Hampton: The Black Panther Party believes in progression. Now, what that mean? That mean, first, you have free breakfast. Then you have free healthcare. Then you have free education. Next thing you know, you look up, you done freed your self!
An Oscar worthy performance by Daniel Kaluuya (Fred Hampton) leads this powerful movie. Hampton is the “Messiah” , in that he is the leader of the Black Panther party and desires to lead them towards a life of prosperity. The story is told through the eyes of the “Judas”, the traitor in the organization, Bill O’Neal (LaKeith Stanfield). O’Neal is an interesting character , seemingly conflicted by his deceitfulness but more than happy to reap the rewards of it. Lakeith Stanfield gives a tremendous performance as O’Neal. There are so many layers and nuances in his performance to give an accurate depiction of the character. The dynamic between the two lead actors was a marvel to watch.
Another stand out performance was Deborah Johnson (Dominique Fishback), a fellow activist ,who becomes Hampton’s lover. She is a strong independent black woman ,her views on Black nationalism are at times at odds with Hampton. Early on in their relationship, Johnson scolds him for dismissing political symbolism and cultural expression. He is not interested in Africa, or in renaming schools and streets after Black heroes. He is a Marxist-Leninist, with a bluntly materialist understanding of the American system. He equates the condition of black people in America to that of being trapped in a burning building, he says in a case like that, “my culture is water and escape.”
It can be hard to believe that Hampton was just 21 when he was killed on Dec. 4, 1969. That’s not a spoiler, just history, and it can be argued that knowing his fate in advance is crucial to an appreciation of the movie. Judas and the Black Messiah can be described as a political drama , with elements of suspense, action. However you choose to describe it, the movie will definitely leave a mark on you.
4 out of 5
BY KAPA KAUMBA