Judas and the Black Messiah tells story of friendship betrayed


   Bill O’Neal’s story of how he betrayed the man in charge of the Black Panther political party in 1968 has never been properly told until now. Judas and the Black Messiah is the film that tells that story.

   Judas and the Black Messiah takes place in Chicago, IL in 1968. A man named Bill O’Neal is caught stealing cars by pretending to be a police officer. He is taken into the FBI by a man named  Roy Mitchell. Roy gives Bill the choice of taking eighteen months in prison for stealing cars on top of five years for impersonating a police officer or being an FBI informant. Bill takes Roy’s deal and goes undercover to find out more about the Black Panther political party which was gaining momentum at the time. Roy tells Bill to befriend Fred Hampton, the man in charge of the Black Panther party, because the F.B.I. supposedly had reason to believe that he was a dangerous person. 

   The film has three main stars. Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out, Sicario) played the man in charge of the Black Panther party, Fred Hampton. LaKeith Stanfield (Atlanta, Knives Out) played the FBI informant, Bill O’Neal. Jesse Plemons (Breaking Bad, The Irishman) played the FBI agent named Roy Mitchell.

   Many moments stood out to me personally in this movie. A quote that really made sense to me was when Fred Hampton was talking to fellow members of the Black Panther party about the differences between politics and war. This is what he had to say: “War is politics with bloodshed and politics is war without bloodshed.” The reason this stood out to me is that sometimes it feels like the country is so divided now that it does feel like the left and the right are always at war. Another moment that stood out to me was when the F.B.I. agent Roy compared the Black Panther party to the Ku Klux Klan. He was trying to justify Bill doing the things that he did. He was trying to justify betrayal with false analogies. This made absolutely no sense to me and because this is a true story, it really shows just how bad the discrimination was against black people at the time. Comparing the two parties is like comparing apples to oranges.

   The acting in this movie is phenomenal and the reason why the stars worked so well together was not coincidental at all.

   “It was in the scriptwriting process I wrote it for Daniel, LaKeith, Dominique and Jesse,” said Shaka King, director of Judas and the Black Messiah. “Those four people I had in mind when the pen was on the pad.” (ET Canada)

   The movie has seen overwhelmingly positive scores with the film being rated a 7.8 on IMDb, an 87 on Metacritic, and a 96% from Rotten Tomatoes at the time of writing this review. 

   Overall, I think that this movie was a very good representation of showing how Bill O’Neal betrayed his friend Fred Hampton. Since I never have studied the true story too closely, there were moments where I actually screamed, “No way!” 

   Judas and the Black Messiah is available to stream on HBO Max through March 14th and is also in theaters that are currently open.