Judas and the Black Messiah -police oppression of African Americans hasn’t much changed
The extraordinary Judas and the Black Messiah may cover the true story of a young man’s infiltration into the Black Panthers, but the broader themes of injustice and police brutality hit closer to home than they should in 2021. As we hit the midway mark of African Heritage/Black History Month, it’s worth recognizing that though the film is based in the 1970’s, it still speaks incredible, difficult truths about how black people are currently being treated.
It follows Bill O’Neal, a petty thief who is blackmailed by a white FBI agent into becoming a lifetime informant. He’s sent on a dangerous mission, to infiltrate the Black Panther Party and investigate Chairman Fred Hampton. Agent Mitchell, played by the incredible Jesse Plemons, likens the Black Panthers to the KKK in one of the early scenes, calling them both terrorists. But writer-director Shaka King lets us make up our own minds, as this deeply troubling story comes to some truly heartbreaking conclusions.
Daniel Kaluuya is bound for an Oscar nomination as Hampton, and Lakeith Stanfield gets the role of his career as the conflicted O’Neal. There are a lot of things going on and a ton to unpack, but one thing is for sure, there is no film that hit me as more crucial during the Black Lives Matter movement than this true story. It will shake you to your core and make you question everything. Facing difficult truths is what we need to do right now as a nation.
Do yourself a favour. See Judas and the Black Messiah, as uncomfortable as it may make you, because it shines a light on inequality and systemic racism, and should be required viewing for 2021.
Judas and the Black Messiah is currently playing in theatres nationwide, and will become available on HBO Max in the near future.
About the Author
Jordan Parker is a freelance entertainment journalist with more than a decade in the business. An avid filmgoer, his favourite movie is Fight Club, but he has a soft spot for rom-coms. A proud queer communicator, he also runs film and TV firm Parker PR.