Movie Plot – Judas and the Black Messiah: Bill O’Neal infiltrates the Black Panther Party per FBI Agent Mitchell and J. Edgar Hoover. As Party Chairman Fred Hampton ascends and falls for a fellow revolutionary along the way, a battle rages for O’Neal’s soul.
Director: Shaka King
Writers: Will Berson, Shaka King, Kenneth Lucas, Keith Lucas
Cast: Daniel Kaluuya, LaKeith Stanfield, Jesse Plemons, Dominique Fishback, Martin Sheen
I am a revolutionary
Judas and the Black Messiah is based on a true story about Fred Hampton, the chairman of the Black Panthers. Well, it’s more about Bill O’Neal, who infiltrates and spies on the group. He finds himself in this place because of his crimes that he had committed. It was either jail or go spy on the Black Panthers.
Fredrick Allen Hampton was a black activist, Marxist-Leninist, and revolutionary socialist. He founded the Rainbow Coalition, a prominent multicultural political organization that initially included the Black Panthers, Young Patriots, the Young Lords, and an alliance among Chicago’s major street gangs to help them end infighting work for social change.
Fred Hampton was identified by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) as a radical threat. They even portrayed his party as the KKK, but the other way around. However, he was someone who wanted to revolt against capitalism, police brutality, and inequality.
Power in the people
The Black Panthers believed that power comes from the people, and they were very popular in the 60s. Together, they were loud, and others could hear them. It was a political street-movement for the black men to be heard! And in Judas and the Black Messiah, there were some great performances.
LaKeith Stanfield and Daniel Kaluuya both played in Get Out, but here they take it an extra step forward.
LaKeith Stanfield plays the Judas as he spies on the group because of his deal with the FBI. What was so interesting about his character, beyond the fact that he actually existed, was that he clearly had inner conflicts. Somehow he was doing this to save his own life, but on the other hand, he was beginning to doubt his own cooperation. He understood the power that Fred Hampton had and questioned his own belief in the Black Panthers. What he was doing felt so wrong to him.
Roy Mitchell (Jesse Plemons) is the one who made O’Neal a classic irrefutable offer. He instructed him to go to meetings, gather information, and get close to the Panther leadership. The rewards include steak dinners, top-shelf booze and envelopes full of cash. However, there were moments where I questioned his own beliefs in all of this. Mostly because there were a lot of unacceptable things going on during all these investigations.
Daniel Kuluyaa proves that he is an excellent actor. My gut feeling says he is someone who challenges himself in new acting roles. He was already quite excellent in Get Out, but I didn’t know how good he was back then. Personally, I think he has a chance to win the Oscar for “Best Supporting Role.” His portrayal of Fred Hampton was truly an outlier. It was someone who is poetic but grabs your attention strongly thanks to his expression.
Fred Hampton’s supernatural ability to bring together potential enemies and rivals made him dangerous to an America that was all too happy with the racist status quo. So he became yet another contestant in the “Black Messiah” baptismal contest that the FBI continued to call after their previous candidates for the title had been murdered. Hampton would also be assassinated on December 4, 1969, exactly 20 months after the last “Black Messiah,” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. had been killed.
J. Edgar Hoover (Martin Sheen) saw African-American militants as the most serious internal threat to national security and feared the rise of a popular, mob-inspired national leader. As Hampton, Daniel Kaluuya takes on the task of incarnating and exorcising both the monster of Hoover’s imagination and a martyr of the Black Power movement. He more than meets the challenge of exposing the striving, doubting, thinking person underneath these myths.
Hampton was just 21 when he was murdered during a police raid on December 4, 1969. That’s not a spoiler, just history, and I would say that knowing his fate in advance is crucial to an appreciation of “Judas and the Black Messiah.” Otherwise, you may well be shocked like me.
Lakeith Stanfield and Daniel Kaluuya deliver strong performances. Judas and the Black Messiah has an intense and exciting direction. In addition, it has a gripping script about people who are discriminated against because of their race and rise up.