Technically this isn’t the “first glance” of the upcoming historical social drama “Judas and the Black Messiah”. Warner Brothers dropped an eye-catching teaser back in August. But today we got a meatier look at this much talked about film based on the life of Fred Hampton, chairman of the Black Panther Party in the late 1960’s. The movie is very much a 2021 release but it’s being positioned for a big Oscar run due to the weird COVID-affected changes in awards season deadlines. Whatever you call it, it’s sure to get a lot of attention once it premieres.
The film is directed, co-produced, and co-written by Shaka King and features a sparkling cast. While not always the most effective at bringing emotion to his characters, Daniel Kaluuya’s quiet intensity looks to be a good fit for Fred Hampton. Lakeith Stanfield, an actor full of charisma and with a pretty dynamic range, plays William O’Neal, a petty criminal turned FBI informant who betrays Hampton to a rabid US government. Together they make for a magnetic duo. The film looks intense, immersive, and insightful.
“Judas and the Black Messiah” premieres February 1st at Sundance before opening February 12th in theaters and on HBO Max. Check out the new trailer below and let me know if you’ll be seeing it or taking a pass.