August 6th, 2018
STARRING: JOHN DAVID WASHINGTON, ADAM DRIVER, LAURA HARRIER, TOPHER GRACE
DIRECTED BY: SPIKE LEE
AMovieGuy.com’s RATING: 4 STARS (Out of 4)
In the current political climate we are living in, the voice of Spike Lee is needed more than ever. The New York director has made movies that constantly speak to audiences about the state of race relations, class warfare, and what it means to be a black person in America. Do the Right Thing still speaks to us about what the correct course of action is when injustice exists. Malcolm X captures the emergence of a great voice, in a community rising against mistreatments and a stacked deck in their own country. Crooklyn painted a romantic look at growing up as a black kid in Brooklyn, something that audiences could only experience through Spike Lee’s vision. And still today, that voice strikes hard like a sledgehammer, and in the form of his newest cinematic achievement- BlacKKKlansman. What better time for Lee to re-emerge to greatness then now? Not by just telling us to “Waaaake up!” as he has countless times before, but instead to tell us exactly how it is. This time, Spike Lee is not messing around. He is pulling the hood off white supremacists, telling the “fo-sure real shit” story of police officer Ron Stallworth (John David Washington) who infiltrated the KKK in the 1970’s.
An interesting trend, which Lee continues here, is his journey away from his hometown of New York. His last film shot in the big apple was 2012’s Red Hook Summer, followed by Old Boy (New Orleans), Da Sweet Blood of Jesus (Massachusetts), and Chi-Raq (Chicago). BlaKKKlansman is located in the rocky mountain high of Colorado Springs, Colorado, where Ron Stallworth became the first African-American to join the police force. He’s placed in the evidence room, where he is belittled and ridiculed by racist co-workers. Fed up with little action, he takes it upon himself to call the local chapter of the Ku Klux Klan, convincing Chief Bridges (Robert John Burke) and partner Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver) that he can take down David Duke (Topher Grace), and his band of evil bigots.
What makes BlacKKKlansman spectacular, is that it speaks to the times we live in, while also being a complete cinematic package. This is a comedy, a cop drama, an homage to classic blaxploitation cinema of the past, a beautiful love story between Ron and activist girlfriend Patrice (Laura Harrier), and a history lesson of the injustice that African-Americans have endured for centuries. It is all packaged with the classic Spike Lee trends: a great soundtrack, including a dance montage to Cornelius Brothers & Sister Rose’s “Too Late To Turn Back Now”, which is one of the greatest scenes of 2018. A fantastic lead performance from Washington, carrying the mantle from his father, yes, Denzel Washington. Not to mention, this is the perfect response to the current white house administration, which had full support from David Duke himself and called marching white supremacists “fine people”. BlacKKKlansman is the megaphone, giving power to the people and we need it right now!
I can’t stop praising BlacKKKlansman. There are two sequences that capture the beautiful essence and pride that African-American men and women have bonded with one another on the sting of racism. The first being when Ron infiltrates a black panther rally, Lee highlights the various faces in the crowd looking up to speaker Kwame Ture (Corey Hawkins). Each person hangs onto these words with a sense of hope for the future, an undeniable spirit, that still to this day, has never broken. The screenplay by Lee, Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz, and Kevin Willmott take focus on the progress of Ron, and builds up to the second sequence, where legendary actor Harry Belafonte expresses his inspiration for the African-American community to stay united.
I absolutely loved BlacKKKlansman, but honestly, I admit that my opinion matters little in this situation. I would implore you to seek out and read reviews from critics that are by a person of color. Odie Henderson, Angelica Jade Bastien on Rogerebert.com, or Emmanuel Noisette on E-Man’s Movie Reviews are all options that will give you a different perspective. It is their voices that matter most in this situation, having a closer connection to the plight that has been endured over the years.
I was deeply moved by BlacKKKlansman. It is Spike Lee’s greatest work since Inside Man and the perfect message for the world today. We have always been a society infiltrated by racism, a subconscious, and conscious notion that dements the brains of people. It is out of fear that we project onto others, whether it be defending statues of slave owners, voting for a man that wrongfully accused the Central Park Five of murder, never stepping outside our boundaries, and claiming that “all lives matter”, while immigrants are locked in cages. Everyone should go see BlacKKKlansman. It is the most important movie of 2018. Waaaaaaakkke UP!
Written by: Leo Brady