Judas and the Black Messiah is an American biographical drama film directed by Shaka King. The film was written by King and Will Berson, based on the story of Fred Hampton and the Black Panther Party in the 1960s.
Judas and the Black Messiah was released in the United States in 2021. The film stars Daniel Kaluuya and Lakeith Stanfield.
In the late 1960s, criminal William "Bill" O'Neal (Lakeith Stanfield) 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 (Jesse Plemons), who offers to have O'Neal's charges dropped if he works undercover for the office. O'Neal is assigned to infiltrate the Black Panther Party (BPP) and its leader, Fred Hampton (Daniel Kaluuya).
O'Neal begins to reach out to Hampton, who works to form alliances with rival gangs and militia groups while extending community outreach through BPP's Free Breakfast for Kids Program. Hampton's persuasive public speaking skills eventually helped form the multiracial "Rainbow Coalition." Also, Hampton falls in love with Deborah Johnson (Dominique Fishback), a member of the BPP. O'Neal begins relaying information to Mitchell, who in return makes up for it with money. When a fugitive member, George Sams (Terayle Hill), hides out at the local BPP office, O'Neal learns from Mitchell that Sams is an informant whose presence in the BPP offices allows the FBI to obtain search warrants. .
After Hampton is arrested and jailed, O'Neal begins to rise through the ranks and is promoted to security captain. When a shooting occurs between the Chicago police and the BPP, O'Neal escapes before the police reduce everyone and burn down the building. Later, O'Neal tries to stop being an informant but is rejected by Mitchell.
After Hampton is released from prison while appealing his charges, he meets with Deborah, now pregnant with her child. A BPP member, Jimmy Palmer (Ashton Sanders), who was hospitalized after being shot by a police officer, dies while being transferred to another hospital. Enraged upon learning of Jimmy's death, his partner Jake Winters (Algee Smith) engages in a shootout with police, killing several officers before being shot to death.
After Hampton's appeal was rejected, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover orders that Hampton be "neutralized" before he returns to prison. Mitchell corners O'Neal into helping with the plan warning him that the BPP will retaliate against him if they discover he is an informant, and O'Neal reluctantly agrees to help. Later, O'Neal is handed a vial of sedatives and ordered to drug Hampton's drink. The following night, the BPP members meet at Hampton's apartment before he is released to prison. A leader of an allied gang offers money to Hampton for him to flee the country, but he rejects it and orders that a trust be established with the money in Jake's name. As the night progresses, O'Neal drugs Hampton and leaves soon after. Hours later, officers and agents raid the apartment and shoot Hampton dead. Later, O'Neal meets with Mitchell, who gives him money and a set of keys to a gas station that he now owns. O'Neal tries to quit again, but reluctantly accepts the money and keys and puts them in his pocket.
The film ends with archival footage of Hampton's speeches, his funeral procession, and an interview O'Neal gave in 1989. The title cards indicate that O'Neal continued to work as an informant within the BPP before committing suicide. A lawsuit was filed against the FBI in 1970 and 12 years later it was settled for $ 1.85 million. Today, Fred Hampton Jr. and his mother serve as president and board member of "Black Panther Party Cubs."
Lakeith Stanfield as William "Bill" O'Neal
Daniel Kaluuya as Fred Hampton
Jesse Plemons as Roy Mitchell
Dominique Fishback as Deborah Johnson
Ashton Sanders as Jimmy Palmer
Algee Smith as Jake Winters
Darrell Britt-Gibson as Bobby Rus