Warner Bros. has released the first trailer for Judas and the Black Messiah. The feature directorial debut of Shaka King is set to chronicle the life of iconic Black Panther leader Fred Hampton. Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out, Queen & Slim) is playing the legendary historical figure who was instrumental in the fight against racism in the U.S. and was ultimately assassinated by the FBI. As we can see, the trailer looks to present us with an unflinching look at Hampton’s life and influence.
The trailer kicks off with Fred Hampton giving a rousing speech. We then get into the meat of the story’s focus, which will hinge on the FBI’s plans to assassinate Fred Hampton. It looks to be uncompromising and beautifully shot. Taking place in the 60s, director Shaka King has managed to capture the era quite well, based on this initial footage. There is a surprising amount of action and intensity. Of note, the trailer concludes with a promise that it will be available “only in theaters.” So don’t expect this to head to VOD anytime soon.
The cast also includes LaKeith Stanfield (Knives Out, The Girl in the Spider’s Web) as William O’Neal, with Jesse Plemons (Vice, Game Night), Dominique Fishback (The Hate U Give, The Deuce), Ashton Sanders (The Equalizer 2, Moonlight) and Martin Sheen (The Departed, The West Wing). Algee Smith (The Hate U Give, Detroit), Darrell Britt-Gibson (Just Mercy, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri), Dominique Thorne (If Beale Street Could Talk), Amari Cheatom (Roman J. Israel, Esq., Django Unchained), Caleb Eberhardt (The Post, Black Christmas) and Lil Rel Howery (Get Out, Uncle Drew) round out the ensemble.
Judas and the Black Messiah tells the story of Fred Hampton (Daniel Kaluuya), who became Chairman of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party, who were fighting for freedom and to put an end to police brutality, among many other causes. Fred was inspiring a generation to rise up and not back down to oppression. That put him directly in the crosshairs of the government, the FBI and the Chicago Police. To destroy the revolution, they had to do it from both the outside and the inside. William O’Neal, facing prison, was offered a deal by the FBI to infiltrate the Black Panthers and provide intel on Hampton. As a member of the Black Panther Party, O’Neal lives in fear that his betrayal will be discovered as he rises through the ranks. As Hampton’s message draws him in, O’Neal cannot escape the deadly trajectory of his ultimate betrayal.
Shaka King and his writing partner, Will Berson, co-wrote the screenplay, with Kenny Lucas and Keith Lucas, co-writing the story. Ryan Coogler (Black Panther, Creed) is producing alongside Charles D. King (Just Mercy, Fences). Sev Ohanian, Zinzi Coogler, Kim Roth, Poppy Hanks, Ravi Mehta, Jeff Skoll, Anikah McLaren, Aaron L. Gilbert, Jason Cloth, Ted Gidlow and Niija Kuykendall are on board as executive producers. Judas and the Black Messiah is set to arrive next year from Warner Bros. Be sure to check out the trailer for yourself.