Movie Review: ‘BlacKkKlansman’
Director: Spike Lee
Cast: John Michael Washington, Adam Driver, Laura Harrier, Topher Grace, jasper Pääkkönen, Michael Buscemi, Ryan Eggold
Plot: Ron Stallworth is the first African American to join the Colorado police force in the 1970s. After starting work as an undercover detective he manages to infiltrate the racist hate group the Ku Klux Klan.
Review: I think the most surprising thing about this movie is how much of it is a true story. The premise sounds like a goofy, juvenile comedy, not a period piece based on fact. But with the exception of a few characters and details, this legit happened. A black detective infiltrated the Klan in the 1970s and even got a photo taken with an arm around “Grand Wizard” David Duke. He successfully prevented events ranging from cross burnings to potential bomb attacks.
Although I’ve found Spike Lee to be hit and miss, the director is always at the top of his game when he’s angry about something. Do The Right Thing was inspired by a racially motivated murder, The 25th Hour was in response to 9/11 and now we have a movie showing people banding together to fight against white supremacists. And if you don’t see the connection to recent political events, Lee makes it abundantly clear for you. David Duke, leader of the Klan, comments that he wants to “make America great again”.
To the movie itself, it’s one heck of a tale. In the lead roles as Stallworth and Detective ‘Flip’ Zimmerman are Washington and Driver. The former, who recently transitioned from professional football to acting, is a charming lead and very clearly a talent to watch. Driver again shows that he’s unlikely to be typecast by his role in Star Wars. He’s one of the most reliable working actors in Hollywood today. Laura Harrier is strides ahead of her role in Spider-Man: Homecoming as an activist who gives voice to the Black Panther movement and exists in contrast to Stallworth’s law enforcement aspirations.
When it came to casting the Klan members it’s clear that Lee wanted to draw upon recent footage of Alt-Right protest marches. It was pretty damn clear from footage of tiki torch wielding racists that they are very, very far from representing the ‘Master Race’. They’re a sad, sorry bunch of insecure pricks and I appreciate that Lee didn’t feel compelled to treat them ‘fairly’. It’s something of a backhanded compliment to Topher Grace that he picked up the role of David Dukes, because that man can do weak-looking dweeb like no-one’s business.
Right, this is getting very political. The movie is very fun and packed with humour. The actors are all charismatic and Lee creates some great comedic moments before shifting gear into a tension filled final act. Without giving anything away, this movie packs a punch before turning you out of the multiplex.
Go out and see it. It’s a movie of the times.
Rating: NINE out of TEN