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Posts Tagged ‘Shaka King’

Judas and the Black Messiah

Monday, March 29th, 2021

JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH is one of this year’s best picture nominees (plus best original screenplay, best cinematography, best original song, and its two title characters were confusingly both nominated for best supporting actor). It’s from director Shaka King (NEWLYWEEDS) and it’s about the true story of an informant pressured by the FBI to go undercover in the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party, an operation that culminated in police murdering Fred Hampton in his bed with two shots to the back of his head. (And getting away with it, obviously.)

The movie opens with a familiar scenario: an officer interrupting a group of Black men to hassle them. They’re in a bar, at a pool table, he makes them empty their pockets, asks about the car out front, claims it was stolen. They’re outraged but obviously used to this shit, then they notice his badge says FBI so why is he asking about a car, and he’s kind of hiding his face and he looks really young…

As he’s about to drive away using their keys they realize it’s a scam. He’s not an FBI agent, but a clever and/or weird car thief named William O’Neal (LaKeith Stanfield, THE PURGE: ANARCHY). But after he’s caught with the car a real FBI agent named Roy Mitchell (Jesse Plemons, BATTLESHIP) comes after him. He obviously doesn’t really give a shit that some kid impersonated a federal officer, but he knows he can threaten jail time to force him to do undercover work. So like Ron Stallworth at the beginning of BLACKKKLANSMAN, but under duress, O’Neal is sent to spy on black militants, specifically Fred Hampton (Daniel Kaluuya, JOHNNY ENGLISH REBORN), the chairman of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party. (read the rest of this shit…)