oscar contender Daniel Kaluuya stars as Black Panther radical in stirring new biopic 'Judas and the Black Messiah'
The Verdict: Four stars - A compelling tale amplified by a terrific Kaluuya.
Judas and the Black Messiah (15)
Daniel Kaluuya marches firmly into the pre-Oscars awards conversation in Judas and the Black Messiah, a tale that dramatically recalls the rise and fall of one of The Black Panthers' most significant leaders.
British actor Kaluuya, building on his remarkable breakthrough in Get Out as well as mainstream hits like Black Panther, is terrific as former Black Panther leader Fred Hampton. He was a young leader who instilled fear into the FBI, under the power of the US government and FBI director J Edgar Hoover (Martin Sheen), who wanted to quash his growing popularity among the African/American community and beyond.
The revolutionary party was still in its infancy, having been founded by Huey P Newton and Bobby Seale in 1966.
But Hampton's rapid rise through the ranks, and his ability to inspire the masses through his powerful rhetoric, was scaring the authorities.
So they found an easy target to become an inside man. William O'Neal (played here in an excellent performance from LaKeith Stanfield) was only 17 when he was caught by an FBI agent, Roy Mitchell (Plemons) for stealing a car in Chicago.
Mitchell had been waiting for an opportunity to target a vulnerable black man, and threatened to throw the book at O'Neal unless he went undercover for the feds.
The movie is told through the eyes of the teenager, who truly had no idea what he was getting himself into. For despite being a newcomer, he was tasked with joining Hampton's security team and became close to the leader. Suddenly, the youngster was in way over his head.
The movie depicts how Hampton, meanwhile, was falling in love with fellow revolutionary Deborah Johnson (Dominique Fishback) as he himself tried to manage his rapid rise.
Directed by Shaka King, the movie is framed around the public speeches of Hampton, a colourful and charismatic orator who seemed to have a stirring soundbite for every occasion.
Kaluuya is excellent throughout but particularly in these scenes, and he's aided and abetted by a fine supporting cast.
It's a stirring movie that builds to a dramatic and memorable finale that reminds you of its relevance today.
The movie is now available to rent on various platforms including Sky Store and Microsoft.
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