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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

MovieReview-History makes compelling docu-drama

Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures
Daniel Kaluuya gives the performance of a lifetime portraying real-life activist Fred Hampton in the Shaka King-directed historical drama. Hampton was assassinated in 1969.

Michael Foster-sanders
editor-in-chief

Equality is a war that Black people have fought since the transatlantic slave trade. Many of the people who were fighting for equality were assassinated,and government agencies had a hand in these deaths. 

The historical drama “Judas and The Black Messiah’’ tells the tale of the treacherous William O’Neal being a tool for the FBI to dismantle The Black Panther Party of Chicago and the death of its chairman, Fred Hampton, through its COINTELPRO division. The late great racist director of the FBI, J. Edger Hoover, hated the Panthers for what they stood for, which was Black defiance, Black pride and freedom and justice for all races.

 Keith Stanfield stars as O’Neal,a two-bit car thief who stole cars by impersonating an FBI agent. After botching a car theft from a local Chicago gang member, he is caught by local law enforcement. The FBI is informed of the crime and G-Man Roy Mitchell pays O’Neal a visit to make him an offer —do time in prison for impersonating an agent or infiltrate the Panthers and  report their every move. The choice he makes sets off a tragic chain of events that he will have to come to terms with later.

Also in this tragic tale of deceit is the magnificent uprising of late Fred Hampton played by Daniel Kaluuya. Hampton is a charismatic orator with an idea of freedom and justice for all. His ideology became an important piece of the Black Panther party.

Hampton also falls in love with one of his biggest supporters, Deborah Johnson, who is played by up and coming actress Dominique Fishback.

Lakeith Stanfield plays the car-thief-turned-government-informant William O’Neal. O’Neal infiltrates the Black Panther Party of Chicago.

The love story of the couple is a palate cleanser for the nastiness the viewer will ingest while taking in O’Neal’s vile actions. Fishback and Kaluuya bring a tenderness in the period of history where the story takes place because the viewer will root for them to win. 

Stanfield does a magnificent job playing weak, spineless O’Neal. The viewer will despise the character in every scene where he interacts with Hampton. Because they know what is going to happen in the end, due to this being a true story. Ironically, Stanfield had to go to therapy after playing this character because of the psychological toll it took on him. 

Jesse Plemons as the G-man Mitchell, the middle-man between O’Neal and the puppet-master Hoover, gives a chilling performance — a man who simply thinks he’s doing his job to keep O’Neal on a leash until he’s no longer needed. Plemons excels as one of the villains of the story.

The only gripe I have with this film is that it’s too short for the history that it is based on. If ever there’s a need for an extended cut, this should be it.  

There’s no excuse not to see this movie, especially since it is streaming on HBO Max. Go and learn some Black American History.   

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