Richard speaks to “CTV News at Six” anchor Pauline Chan about the best movies and television to watch this weekend including the programming at the 9th Annual Black Film Festival, the new drama “Judas and the Black Messiah” and the quirky rom com “All About Who You Know” on Crave.
Richard joins CP24 to have a look at new movies coming to VOD, streaming services and theatres including the drama “Judas and the Black Messiah” (Theatres), the psychological thriller “St. Maud” (digital and on-demand) and Robin Wright’s directorial debut “Land” (in theatres).
Richard sits in on the CTV NewsChannel with host Marcia MacMillan to have a look at the new movies coming to VOD, streaming services and theatres including the drama “Judas and the Black Messiah” (Theatres), the psychological thriller “St. Maud” (digital and on-demand) and Robin Wright’s directorial debut “Land” (in theatres).
Richard sits in on the CFRA Ottawa morning show with host Bill Carroll to talk the new movies coming to theatres, VOD and streaming services including the drama “Judas and the Black Messiah” (Theatres), the psychological thriller “St. Maud” (digital and on-demand), Robin Wright’s directorial debut “Land” (in theatres), the cheesy action flick “Skyfire” (VOD) and the dark comedy “Breaking News In Yuba County” (VOD).
The most surprising thing about “Judas and the Black Messiah,” now playing in select theatres, is that it took 51 years to bring Black Panther Party chairman Fred Hampton’s story to the screen.
In 1969 the charismatic Hampton (Daniel Kaluuya) was shot in his bed during a state-sanctioned predawn raid conducted by the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, the Chicago Police Department and the FBI. Director Shaka King vividly details how and why he met his premature end.
The story begins when career criminal William O’Neal’s (Lakeith Stanfield) plan to impersonate an FBI agent in order to brazenly steal a car goes awry. He winds up beaten, in the hands of Roy Mitchell (Jesse Plemons), an actual agent who offers him a deal. Either do one-and-a-half years for stealing the car and another five for impersonating an officer or go undercover and infiltrate the Illinois chapter of the Black Panthers. He chooses freedom in exchange for supplying details on the comings-and goings of deputy chairman Hampton and his girlfriend, revolutionary Deborah Johnson (Dominique Fishback). Rising to the trusted position of security captain O’Neal is torn between loyalty to Hampton’s revolutionary ideas and self-interest, i.e., the deal he made to stay out of prison. “Imagine what they would do if they found out their security captain was a rat,” says Mitchell.
As the title suggests “Judas and the Black Messiah” is a story of epic betrayal. King carefully fits the puzzle pieces together to create a complex picture of its characters.
Stanfield, who has been handing in strong performances in films like “Selma,” “Get Out” and “Sorry to Bother You” hits a career high here. His take on O’Neal portrays the conflict of a man who took a dangerous and deadly road to salvation, only to discover he was in way over his head. There’s a complexity to Stanfield’s work as he breathes life into his conflicted character. In real life, years after the events portrayed in the film, O’Neal said of his legacy, “I think I’ll let history speak for me.” History may judge him, call him a Judas, but Stanfield doesn’t. Instead, he helps us understand O’Neal’s bad decisions.
Kaluuya unfolds Hampton as much more than a title. History records him as the assassinated Chairman of the Black Panthers, but “Judas and the Black Messiah” remembers him as a captivating speaker who rallied people for his cause as he established free breakfast programs and negotiated a détente between rival gangs. Kaluuya’s work jumps off the screen, with show stopping speeches and emotional scenes he brings Hampton off the pages of the history books with a well-rounded, fiery performance.
The vivid performances, including Fishback who brings depth to a supporting character, reel you in. King takes the time to let us get to know Hampton and O’Neal, which makes the deadly dance they engage in, leading up to the violent climax, all the more emotionally shocking.
Set more than fifty years ago “Judas and the Black Messiah” feels timely. Many of the issues at play in the story are still hot button topics today. The work Hampton began continues because, as he once said, “you can kill the revolutionary but not the revolution.”
A weekly feature from from ctvnews.ca! The Crouse Review is a quick, hot take on the weekend’s biggest movies! This week Richard looks at Denzel Washington in “The Equalizer 2,” the delightful “Eighth Grade” and the biopic “Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot.”
Richard joins CP24 anchor Nathan Downer to have a look at the weekend’s new movies including Denzel Washington in “The Equalizer 2,” the delightful “Eighth Grade” and the biopic “Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot.”
Richard sits in with CTV NewsChannel anchor Erin Paul to have a look at the weekend’s big releases, Denzel Washington in “The Equalizer 2,” the delightful “Eighth Grade” and the biopic “Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot.”
Like a perfectly cooked egg, or popping the individual pockets of air on bubble wrap or the “pawooof” sound a properly opened bottle of champagne makes, watching Denzel Washington open up a can of whoop ass on bad people is extraordinarily satisfying. His latest film, “The Equalizer 2,” the first sequel in his long and stories career, offers up a cornucopia of fisticuffian delights that should keeps fans of tough guy Denzel happy.
Denzel returns as former secret agent and righter-of-wrongs Robert McCall. Although he’s looking to scale back his ongoing quest to protect and serve the exploited and oppressed, when his former boss and close friend Susan Plummer (Melissa Leo) is murdered, he goes looking for revenge. “You killed my friend,” he says to the baddies, “so I’m going to kill each and every one of you. My only disappointment is that I only get to do it once.” Cue the carnage, Denzel-style.
There’s more, like a subplot with a young artist McCall tries to steer away from gang life and some double crosses, but you don’t go to an “Equalizer” movie for the social messaging or the plot. You go to see Denzel reign holy hell down on people that deserve a punch or two. That’s why the first, largely plot free, half of the movie is more satisfying than the second. We see McCall in random situations doing what he does best, not getting bogged down by the vagaries of narrative style or thematic statements. The fight scenes are don’t vary much, he scopes out the room, mutters a killer one-liner and devastates those who get in his way. It’s in the second half, after Susan’s murder that it sags as the movie strays into procedural territory. McCall’s investigative work leads to another improbable “Equalizer” style climax, although this one, set in a beach town during a hurricane, isn’t quite as ridiculous as the Home Hardware shootout—who knew those places were so dangerous?—in the first film, but it still requires some suspension of disbelief. (Start by asking yourself, when did he have time to hang up all those pictures of Susan in a wild windstorm?)
Director Antoine Fuqua has snapped up the pace from the first film, showcased the action, and added in two great motivators, betrayal and grief. Washington brings gravitas and ferocity to a character stuck somewhere between atoning for his violent life by helping those around him and knocking the snot out of people who get on his bad side. This sequel muddies the character by presenting him as a one-man posse, meting out his own brand of over-the-top justice. You can root for him, just don’t get on his bad side.
Not as trashy as “Death Wish” or as action-packed as “John Wick,” two other exemplars of the man on a crusade genre, “The Equalizer 2” is a solidly entertaining popcorn flick with pretensions of bringing Shakespearean level of pathos to the tale of vengeance. Instead, it’s “Taken” with the special set of skills and without the annoying daughter character.