Streaming now on Netflix
Spike Lee isn’t a director who shies away from sensitive topics. He’s made several films that deal with racial issues and BlacKkKlansman is one of them. It’s based on true events that Ron Stallworth recounted in his book Black Klansman. As you may guess from its name, it’s about a black man who infiltrates the white supremacist group, Ku Klux Klan.
The movie focusses on Ron Stallworth (John David Washington) who is hired to be the first black police officer in the small town of Colorado Springs. Tired of working in the records room, he decides to show his skills by calling up the local chapter of the Ku Klux Klan and striking up a familiarity with its leader, Walter Breachway (Ryan Eggold). But when he’s invited to a meeting, he uses a white officer named Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver) to go as him. Meanwhile, the real Ron even forms a bond over the phone with the national leader and grand wizard of the Klan, David Duke (Topher Grace). As the investigation is underway, Ron finds himself falling in love with Patrice (Laura Harrier), who leads the Black Students Union and hates all cops.
An incredible adaptation of a true story
Even when you know it’s based on a true story, what happens in BlacKkKlansman is truly incredible. Ron Stallworth struggles between his loyalty to his race and joining an institution that’s known to discriminate against his race. The film shows both the extremist sides and the anger behind each of them.
The comedy is strong
The premise of BlacKkKlansman itself is quite ridiculous and it’s fun to watch how the two Ron Stallworths collectively infiltrate the KKK when one of them is black and the other is Jewish. But even as there are moments that evoke laughter, it also makes you question the hatred that’s been bred between these groups to make them go to such extreme lengths.
Spike Lee brings out the best of his cast
While the Swedish actor Jasper Pääkkönen as Felix shows the redneck side of the organization, Topher Grace as David Duke makes us realize that even smooth-talking gentlemen can harbor the same beliefs. On the other side, Laura Harrier gives a strong performance as the outspoken Patrice. Corey Hawkins, who plays Kwame Turre in a short scene in the beginning, also convincingly shows how he can get crowds of people behind him with just one short speech. Lastly, the leads – John David Washington and Adam Driver – get many moments to shine and shine they do.
The message behind the madness
Spike Lee gives you the time to cheer for the heroes but in its final moments, BlacKkKlansman sheds lightness and gets completely serious. It shows the real footage from last year in Charlottesville where we see the white supremacist groups in action, proving that while the events in the film may have happened in the past, the issues behind them are very much present in America even today.
WATCH OR NOT:
BlacKkKlansman is a testament to the fact that the past lives on in the present. While it’s as American as it gets, the story it tells is accessible to all. If you haven’t seen Spike Lee’s films, prepare to be impressed.
Director: Spike Lee
Writers: Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz, Kevin Willmott, Spike Lee
Cast: John David Washington, Adam Driver, Topher Grace, Laura Harrier
Streaming on: Netflix