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An electrifying dramatization of historical events, Judas and the Black Messiah is a forceful condemnation of racial injustice -- and a major triumph for its director and stars. Read critic reviews

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Movie Info

FBI informant William O'Neal infiltrates the Illinois Black Panther Party and is tasked with keeping tabs on their charismatic leader, Chairman Fred Hampton. A career thief, O'Neal revels in the danger of manipulating both his comrades and his handler, Special Agent Roy Mitchell. Hampton's political prowess grows just as he's falling in love with fellow revolutionary Deborah Johnson. Meanwhile, a battle wages for O'Neal's soul. Will he align with the forces of good? Or subdue Hampton and The Panthers by any means, as FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover commands?

Cast & Crew

Daniel Kaluuya
Fred Hampton
LaKeith Stanfield
William O'Neal
Jesse Plemons
Roy Mitchell
Dominique Fishback
Deborah Johnson
Ashton Sanders
Jimmy Palmer
Martin Sheen
J. Edgar Hoover
Algee Smith
Jake Winters
Robert Longstreet
Special Agent Carlyle
Will Berson
Screenwriter
Shaka King
Screenwriter
Jason Cloth
Executive Producer
Zinzi Coogler
Executive Producer
Ted Gidlow
Executive Producer
Aaron L. Gilbert
Executive Producer
Poppy Hanks
Executive Producer
Anikah McLaren
Executive Producer
Ravi D. Mehta
Executive Producer
Sev Ohanian
Executive Producer
Kim Roth
Executive Producer
Jeff Skoll
Executive Producer
Niija Kuykendall
Executive Producer
Sean Bobbitt
Cinematographer
Kristan Sprague
Film Editor
Mark Isham
Original Music
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Critic Reviews for Judas and the Black Messiah

All Critics (335) | Top Critics (72) | Fresh (323) | Rotten (12)

Audience Reviews for Judas and the Black Messiah

  • Jun 10, 2021
    Somehow feeling both like a quasi-documentary but also an arthouse film, while in fact being a biopic, Judas and the Black Mesiah is a fascinating film telling a overlooked chapter of American history that damn well deserves to be told. It will make you mad, but it will also intrigue the hell out of you, and overall will spark conversation. It's also just damn well made with a style all its own and acting that knocks it out of the park. Easily one of the best films of the year.
    Michael M Super Reviewer
  • Mar 15, 2021
    Sometimes the movie feels devoid of energy or drama which given the material is a little surprising. Still, the central performances make it worth a viewing.
    Alec B Super Reviewer
  • Mar 09, 2021
    As we get older, we become more conscious of our time and the legacy we might leave. The long game no longer feels as long and therefore the implications of our actions become just as important as the ramifications. On the day of January 15th, 1990 William O'Neal was a forty-year-old man who'd been drinking with his uncle into the early-morning hours of Martin Luther King Day before running into westbound traffic on an expressway and jumping in front of a car that killed him. His death was ruled a suicide. Later that night, on PBS, the second part of the fourteen-part documentary series, Eyes on the Prize, would debut. The second part of the series chronicled the time period between the national emergence of Malcolm X in 1964 up through to the 1983 election of Harold Washington as the first African American mayor of Chicago. Included in this span of time is the year 1969 and in 1969 William O'Neal would turn twenty years-old. 1969 is also the year a twenty-one-year-old Fred Hampton, the chairman of the Illinois Chapter of the Black Panther Party, would be assassinated. Judas and the Black Messiah tells the story of how these two men were connected to one another in a tale as old as scripture as indicated by its biblical title. The second part of the Eyes on the Prize documentary contains the only on-camera interview O'Neal ever gave. The interview itself was conducted on April 13, 1989 and in that interview O'Neal discussed his involvement with the Black Panther Party, how he was exploited by the powers that be and a puppet for the FBI who blackmailed him into infiltrating the Panthers and eventually laying out the floor plan of Hampton's apartment that would lead to the raid where law enforcement fired a total of ninety-nine shots, executing Hampton at point-blank range. The Gospel of Matthew 26:15 states that Judas committed his betrayal of Jesus in exchange for thirty pieces of silver, but as there's undoubtedly more to Judas' story and motivation than money the relationship between O'Neal and Hampton seems to have been equally as complicated. In that 1989 interview, O'Neal stated "I didn't feel like I had done anything. I didn't walk in there with guns. I didn't shoot him. FBI didn't do it. I felt somewhat like I was betrayed...I felt like, like perhaps I was on the wrong side. Yeah, yeah, I had my misgivings. I'm not going to sit here now and take the responsibility for the raid, you know, I'm not going to do that. I didn't pull the trigger. I didn't issue the warrant. I didn't put the guns in the apartment. So, I'm not going to take the responsibility for that, but I do feel like I was betrayed." O'Neal was clearly a tortured individual who was also very much in denial. According to Matthew 27:1–10, after learning that Jesus was to be crucified, Judas attempted to return the money he had been paid for his betrayal and committed suicide by hanging. Do we really blame Judas for Jesus' death though? No, of course not, just as O'Neal is only responsible for Hampton's death so far as being a young Black man in the midst of a race war who was targeted by J. Edgar Hoover's "America" as an "informant". read the whole review at www.reviewsfromabed.com
    Philip P Super Reviewer
  • Feb 17, 2021
    What a horrifying but powerful movie. Judas and the Black Messiah is one of those movies that doesn't feel like a movie at all, but an experience so mesmerizing you feel like you are a reluctant passenger observing real life events. The acting is just superb. The performances by LaKeith Stanfield as Bill O'Neal and especially Daniel Kaluuya as Fred Hampton were outstanding. I still remember watching Daniel Kaluuya in an early season of Black Mirror, in 2011. It's a joy to watch someone outdo themselves in movie after movie. The script is amazing. That scene where J. Edgar Hoover (a mostly recognizable Martin Sheen) asks a massively loaded question to O'Neal's handler Roy (played by Jesse Plemons) was beyond tense. Hoover is pure evil. Judas delivers the most seething social commentary since Blindspotting.
    Mark B Super Reviewer

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