Home #Hwoodtimes A REVIEW of:  JUDAS and the BLACK MESSIAH


By: Judith Oehmen

Los Angeles, CA (The Hollywood Times) 2/17/21 – Daniel Kaluuya excels in his portrayal of Fred Hampton, the leader of The Black Panther Party of the late ’60s. To say his performance was electrifying doesn’t begin to describe the depth of it. Kaluuya provides a riveting account of an influential, charismatic, and sometimes controversial civil rights activist figure from our nation’s tragic past. He clearly demonstrated the internal struggle of a torn man, who felt so strongly about this country’s injustice towards his race that he forced himself to take action. Kaluuya visibly changes both his body stature as well as his voice inflections when Hampton is speaking about what must be done, the changes that are needed, and what it will take to do so.  The fact that this character is only referred to as a supporting actor (Oscars) is also an injustice. In my opinion, he stole the show, the script, and all the applause.

(Photo: Glen Wilson/Warner Bros)

Though it was obvious early on that Hampton was headed for a tragic end, just like MLK Jr and Malcolm X before him. This is truly a story that needs to be told. King and Benson create an exceptional screenplay (based on a story by Kenneth and Keith Lucas), combining historical facts while maintaining an engaging and entertaining experience, a difficult thing to do with this sort of subject matter. However, it seems a little off, that the narrative comes from O’Neal’s (Stanfield) point of view and more from the oppressive (white) government viewpoint rather than what should have been obvious. But since these are still many of the problems we are currently facing to this very day, maybe that is to be expected. I would like to mention that King was able to create a more accurate account of these realities than most have been done in the past.

“Judas” was excellently written, (King, Benson) directed (King) and the acting was exquisite. Several noteworthy performances elegantly displayed the depth of talent with exceptional portrayals by LaKeith Stanfield as Bill O’Neal, a man who wrote his own tragedy, ultimately being turned into an FBI informant, breathes a real-life struggle into the role. Dominique Fishback was genuine as Hampton’s girlfriend, Deborah, which was a welcomed addition to the cast and added a more intimate nature to the film. The female influence from many films that have come before has sorely overlooked this integral part of the story, leaving out the “personable” connection that audiences need to make it “real”.

Watch the trailer for the movie ‘Judas and the Black Messiah.’ (Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures)

Overall, it was a tremendously accurate and brutally honest film about a tumultuous and horrifying time in American history when our own government, led by powerful, opinionated individuals, who had basically declared war against The Black Panther Party and the dramatic events that followed.

Well done – a must-see.

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Valerie Milano is the well-connected Senior Editor and Entertainment Critic at, a website that aggregates showbiz news curated for, and written by, insiders of the entertainment industry. (@HwoodTimes @TheHollywood.Times) Milano, whose extraordinary talents for networking in the famously tight-clad enclave of Hollywood have placed her at the center of the industry’s top red carpets and events since 1984, heads daily operations of a uniquely accessible, yet carefully targeted publication. For years, Milano sat on the board and tour coordinator of the Television Critics Association’s press tours. She has written for Communications Daily, Discover Hollywood, Hollywood Today, Television International, and Video Age International, and contributed to countless other magazines and digests. Valerie works closely with the Human Rights Campaign as a distinguished Fed Club Council Member. She also works with GLSEN, GLAAD, Outfest, NCLR, LAMBDA Legal, and DAP Health, in addition to donating both time and finances to high-profile nonprofits. She has been a member of the Los Angeles Press Club for a couple of years and looks forward to the possibility of contributing to the future success of its endeavors. Milano’s passion for meeting people extends from Los Feliz to her favorite getaway, Palm Springs. There, she is a member of the Palm Springs Museum of Art and a prominent Old Las Palmas-area patron.