BlacKkKlansman - Review
BlacKkKlansman is the newest Spike Lee Joint, and it is a return to form for the acclaimed director. It is a sad time that we live in, when this film is more culturally relevant than it should be. The true story is told effectively, and it really should make you uncomfortable.
There will be a few spoilers throughout.
Let me reiterate this. BlacKkKlansman will make you uncomfortable. Let’s also get this out of the way: Spike Lee did not make this political for today. President Trump did. This is a natural response to what has been happening in the world. If say Jordan Peele, who executive produced the movie, directed, it would be the same story, same message. If they got someone else, like Antoine Fuqua, Ryan Coogler or Ava DuVernay, it would be the same story, same message. If this makes you uncomfortable for reasons outside of the Ku Klux Klan, which should make everyone uncomfortable, then maybe you should do some self-reflecting.
The story is a wild one, the first black police officer in Colorado Springs Colorado, Ron Stallworth, infiltrated the local division of the KKK, and eventually became that chapter’s leader!
While the story is strong enough on its own merit, it is the cast that really elevates this picture to another level. John David Washington (the son of Denzel Washington!) carries the movie as Stallworth, and Adam Driver once again proves that he is one of the strongest actors of our generation.
The story is presented so we are part of the long con from the very beginning. There is definitely world, perhaps if this wasn’t a true story, where we don’t know they are cops until the second act or so. But presenting this straightforward was the best option. What Ron Stallworth did was extraordinary. His journey deserved to be chronicled every step of the way.
Lee does a good job showing the contrast of the KKK and the Black Power movement. The way he cuts between the two is powerful. There was one particular moment, with the Klan in a church listening to a speech by David Duke (played by Topher Grace, who did a great job capturing what a despicable and disgusting animal Duke is) was being intercut with a speech given by Harry Belafonte, who was relaying the horrors he and his friends and family had gone through. Belafonte delivered the most emotional – and most important – part of the entire film.
One of the strongest aspects of the film, is how much hate is normalized. It is more impactful that way. If it was made to look like parody, it wouldn’t have been as powerful. It was apparent how important Stallworth’s mission was because of how hate was presented.
Everyone delivers A+ performances. Alec Baldwin and Corey Hawkins both have small (albeit important) roles, and both give some of the best performances of their career. Hawkins should get award consideration. He wasn’t in the movie for long, but Meryl Streep has received recognition for less screen time than Hawkins had here, so it is not unprecedented.
Some people might consider the way Lee ended the film to be controversial. I was of the mind that it drove the point of how important this is home. This kind of hatred and bigotry is absolutely still happening today, and has been fueled and encouraged since November 8, 2016.
Lee gives a wonderful tribute to Heather Heyer, who died while peacefully protesting the Charlottesville rally by a white supremacist who ran his car into the crowd. BlacKkKlansman was released almost a year to the day of her untimely death.
Without the present day spin, the film feels like it is distant history. To the people who live with being racially profiled every day, they know it isn’t stuck in the 70s. It happens every day, and unfortunately has been getting worse. Lee put that on front street for everyone who doesn’t realize that.
The worst part, is that there is this stigma that comes with Lee. That Lee will “politicize” everything. As I said above, you can’t tell this story without it being political. That is not Lee’s fault. It is a sad state of affairs when race, gender, and sexual orientation are political. Human rights shouldn’t be a political issue. But some people will always want to see other groups repressed. We have to do whatever we can to combat that. BlacKkKlansman is important in that fight.
Go see it. Everyone should. If you are someone who doesn’t get discriminated against, it will be good to feel uncomfortable for two hours. You might know a little how it feels when women get harassed, or minorities get treated unfairly just because their skin pigment is slightly different than yours.
Fight darkness with light. Don’t be complacent. Be kind to everyone.
BlacKkKlansman is in theaters everywhere now.