Skip to content Skip to footer

‘Judas and the Black Messiah’ looks like a generational film coming

“Repeat after me. I am a revolutionary,” shouts Daniel Kaluuya as Fred Hampton.

“I am a revolutionary!”

Judas and the Black Messiah, the upcoming Ryan Coogler-produced film, focuses on Fred Hampton and the Black Panther party in the late 1960’s.

In addition to Kaluuya in the starring role, LaKeith Stanfield leads as William O’Neal, party member but operative for the FBI and its attempts to silence the Black Panthers.

In this trailer, Stanfield, fresh off a year of great performances in films like Uncut Gems and Knives Out, shows off his delicate touch and refinery in front of the lens.

He is able to convey so much pain and quandary just in his eyes; a man torn by a moral conflict but also an intrinsic need to survive.

The FBI looks to be largely represented by Jesse Plemons, an actor who has shown an adeptness at playing a sociopath before.

O’Neal holds up his hand in solidarity during Hampton’s speech, but peers across the church crowd and lays eyes on Plemon’s character, Roy Mitchell.

Mitchell looks sinister in his approach; a nearly imperceptible smirk coats his lips. He demands O’Neal give him information on Fred Hampton or go to jail himself.

The music, right from the inception and incrementally so, forebodes. But with the foreboding undercurrent, also rages an impenetrable drum line, one that signals danger and also courage at play.

“These ain’t no terrorists,” Stanfield says to Plemons.

There is hope in Hampton’s speech, no matter how much our cynical and realist minds know how a story ends when a liberator comes up against a system cloaked and birthed in white supremacy.

Hampton shouts:

“You can murder a liberator but you can’t murder a liberation.

You can murder a revolutionary but you can’t murder a revolution!

And you can murder a freedom fighter but you can’t murder freedom!”

In the midst of a monumental and historic moment in U.S. history, Judas and the Black Messiah will show us about a leader from over 50 years ago. A reminder: the fights for liberation and coordinated efforts of abolition are not newfound.

Nor did they start with Hampton, but his example is one of significance. Just 21 at the time, he was chairman of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party.

Leaders exist at any age, and the FBI was so worried about Hampton that they murdered him in his bed in a “raid” in 1969. It is said that O’Neal drugged Hampton that night, and the FBI shot the incapacitated Hampton in his sleep while his girlfriend, nine-months pregnant, also lay.

This story is one that needs to be told, and now is better than never. For the young folks that don’t know the story of Hampton and the Black Panther Party in the 60’s, here’s your chance.

Kaluuya drips with charisma and emotion, in a more animated role than I have ever seen him in before.

Shaka King, director of shorts Newlyweeds, Mulignans, and LaZercism, has helped create a beautiful work of art, if even just in this trailer.

But frankly, this is one of the best trailers I have ever seen, and I do not doubt the movie will be even better.

It is also a dose of fresh air to see a black director helming a biopic project, especially about a black man.

Try as a white counterpart might, they can not truly put themselves in the position to understand, nor should they be given the opportunity.

The energy in the trailer is tangible, and the story of Hampton needs retelling. We can’t wait to see what the beautiful people involved in this project come up with, because if the trailer is any indication, this film is going to be generational.