Judas and the Black Messiah (2021) online

4K
Year: 2021
Country: USA
Time: 2h 6min
Director: Shaka King
Judas and the Black Messiah is a 2021 American biographical drama film about the betrayal of Fred Hampton (Daniel Kaluuya), chairman of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party in late-1960s Chicago, at the hands of William O'Neal (Lakeith Stanfield), an FBI informant. Jesse Plemons, Dominique Fishback, Ashton Sanders, Darrell Britt-Gibson, Lil Rel Howery, Algee Smith, and Martin Sheen also star. The film is directed and produced by Shaka King, who wrote the screenplay with Will Berson, based on a story by the pair and Kenny and Keith Lucas.

A Fred Hampton biopic had been in the works for several years, with both the Lucas Brothers and Will Berson writing and shopping screenplays individually since 2014. Berson's version almost got made with F. Gary Gray directing, but, when that fell through, King was hired to helm the project. The cast joined in 2019, with the blessings of Hampton's family, with filming taking place that fall in Ohio.

Judas and the Black Messiah premiered at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival on February 1, 2021, and was released in the United States by Warner Bros. Pictures on February 12, simultaneously in theaters and digitally on HBO Max. The film was lauded by critics, who praised King's direction, the performances, and its timely themes. For his performance, Kaluuya was nominated for Best Supporting Actor at the Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild Awards.

In the late 1960s, 17-year-old petty criminal William "Bill" O'Neal is arrested in Chicago after attempting to hijack a car while posing as a federal officer. He is approached by FBI Special Agent Roy Mitchell, who offers to have O'Neal's charges dropped if he works undercover for the bureau. O'Neal is assigned to infiltrate the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party (BPP) and its leader, Fred Hampton.

O'Neal begins to grow close to Hampton, who works to form alliances with rival gangs and militia groups while extending community outreach through the BPP's Free Breakfast for Children Program. Hampton's persuasive oratory skills eventually help to form the multiracial Rainbow Coalition. Hampton also falls in love with Deborah Johnson, a fellow BPP member. O'Neal begins to relay intel to Mitchell, who in return compensates him with money. When a fugitive Party member, George Sams, hides out at the local BPP office, O'Neal learns from Mitchell that Sams is an informant whose presence in BPP offices allows the bureau to obtain search warrants.

After Hampton is arrested and imprisoned, O'Neal begins to rise through the ranks and is promoted to security captain. When a shootout between the Chicago Police and the BPP occurs at the chapter office, O'Neal sneaks out as the office is bombed by the police. Afterward, O'Neal attempts to quit being an informant but is rejected by Mitchell.

After Hampton is released from prison while appealing his charges, he reunites with Deborah, now pregnant with his child. A BPP member, Jimmy Palmer, who was hospitalized after being shot by a police officer, is killed while being transferred to another hospital. Enraged upon learning of Jimmy's death, fellow member Jake Winters engages in a shootout with police, killing several officers before being gunned down himself.
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