We are back on The Grind, and we are here to give our thoughts on the new WB film Judas and The Black Messiah. The film hit theaters and HBO Max last weekend, and I must admit, I am once again loving this day and day release with HBO Max. Being able to sit at home and enjoy this film to the fullest was so awesome! I made popcorn, had some M&Ms, Junior Mints, and a big ole’ ice cold Root Beer. It was a great movie night.
Judas and The Black Messiah stars Daniel Kaluuya, Lakeith Stanfield, Jesse Plemons, Dominique Fishback, Ashton Sanders, Darrell Britt–Gibson, Lil Rel Howery, Algee Smith, and Martin Sheen. It was directed by Shaka King and written by King along with Will Berson. The film follows William O’Neal (Stanfield) who is offered a plea deal by the FBI to infiltrate the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party to gather intelligence on Chairman Fred Hampton (Kaluuya).
Not knowing this story really made it very entertaining for me. I was able to get sucked into the story. So if you have not seen the film and a re looking too, and do not know the true story, I suggest not doing the research until after you watch. Because it made the tension of the film strong when I did not know what was going to happen. There was one point where something happens, and I had no idea where they were going.
First off, the story is extraordinarily strong. The true story really leant itself well to a powerful film. But the true strength lies in the hands of the performances. Daniel Kaluuya is putting together one hell of a resume and is solidifying himself as one of the top actors working today. With every film, he ups his own game and delivers more passionate and killer performances. He brings to life a larger-than-life personality that was Fred Hampton, and makes you see why this man was so captivate, and why he was such a leader. You feel the personality radiate off screen and you are drawn to every movement, ever word, ever expression Kaluuya makes.
As good as Kaluuya is, the show stealer is Dominique Fishback. This was my first time seeing this girl in a role, and though the role is pivotal, she is more of a supporting role, with out a bulk of lines. However, you feel her presence every time she is there. Whether she is front and center, or just in the background, you are drawn to her, maybe so more then Kaluuya. Fishback is a rising star, grant it I have only seen her work in this fil, the attention she commands proves to me she will be a top star, and soon.
Lakeith Stanfield is one of my favorite actors working today. From his minor appearance as Snoop in Straight Outta Compton, to his show stealing performances as Darius and the FX breakout show ATLANTA, Stanfield constantly impresses. And his role as William O’Neil is no exception. Stanfield can really show the duality of the character, without sacrificing belief in the film. So many times, when watching a story like this, I see the character acting a certain way that in unbelievable for the situation. Something that takes me out of the film and makes me think “Had I been in this situation, and this dude did this, I woulda seen right through him.” Yet Stanfield can show those fears in being a “spy” and yet not give a tell that you would see.
The cinematography captures the scope of the movement as well as the relationships in an extraordinarily strong way. This film is shot beautiful and feels like a large scope. The world feels real and looks real. Not once do you feel like you are on a set, or a recreation of late 60s. It is never overdone, or cheesy, just feels like the real world. Which is what making the film so impactful. With the performances as good as they are, and the world feeling like a real world, you are sucked in, and drawn into every situation that sets you on the edge of your seat constantly.
The relationships all feel real and genuine. Kaluuya and Fishback have great chemistry to where you find yourself believing in the relationship. You understand the friendship between Hampton and O’Neil. And even more important, the partnership between Jesse Plemons FBI Agent Roy Mitchell and O’Neil is incredibly real. You see O’Neil go from a scared informant to a confident one, reaping the benefits, before falling to the fear of the position again. You get the friendship that is behind the professional relationship of the two.
All in all Judas and The Black Messiah is a powerful film, one that you need to sit down and watch. We are giving WB’s Judas and The Black Messiah a 3.4 outta 5, with a .3 Positivity bonus for its performances. That brings the Positive Film Score to 3.7 outta 5! But what do you think? Have you watched Judas and The Black Messiah on HBO Max yet? Or did you go to theaters to see it? What were your thoughts? Answer the call in the comments below!