There is a lot of buzz, as there was about last year’s Get Out and its look into white America’s perception of race and race relations. BlacKkKlansman is a look at how things were just forty short years ago and how we are hurtling along to repeat it.
In theory, the idea of a Black man infiltrating the ranks of KKK is ludicrous and smacks of a Mel Brooks movie gone wrong or a Dave Chappelle skit until you check history and see that this indeed actually happen. The movie is based on the book and life of Ron Stallworth, (who wrote the book as well) the officer who did the infiltration. In the late seventies, Officer Stallworth answered an ad looking for Klan recruits and for the next several months, his police unit investigated the members and even meeting the infamous David Duke prior to a cross burning that was supposed to take place.
I have to be honest and state that Spike lost me for a while after he butchered Oldboy. My hope here was that even though liberties would be taken with this story, he could deliver and thankfully he did. One could say that this movie is vintage Spike Lee in that he manages to tell a provocative story in a straightforward manner. As always it’s done in such a way that the stars of the film, John David Washington, Adam Driver and Topher Grace don’t overshadow the story. Even Corey Hawkins and Laura Harrier’s supporting roles mesh well into the movie. As always, Spike finds ways to deftly shift the tone in the movie from serious to comedic and occasionally sheer buffoonery all the while in getting his point across that the actions that happened in the 1970’s still are happening now.
The scenes where Stallworth interacts with David Duke are pure comedic but again, it’s worth noting that this actually happened; it’s sadly amazing that a group of people who consider themselves a ‘master race’ were so easily duped by phone. Also the scenes with Adam Driver’s Flipp and his interactions with actual klansmen were equally telling as well. While the characters seem like stereotypical standouts, these characterizations aren’t too far off what we actually have seen.
If there was one complaint that I had, beyond the fact that the story was a bit by the numbers, it’s that Spike did not do a great job in portraying Stallworth going from an outsider cop who also happens to be Black, to one of the most trusted undercover investigators on the force. Then again, on the flipside, by the end of the movie we do see how much he is trusted when he is given a certain task.
All in all, this movie does well in presenting the parallels of what’s happened in the 70s and present day. I honestly don’t know who it may make reflect on it more: today’s generations who are bombarded constantly with racism and bad policing, or those of us who are seeing history repeating itself.
This movie is something that we all need to watch as it covers the gamut of racial identity and distrust, the boundaries at which one has to create to fight against those who seek to cross those boundaries and the stark uncomfortable truth in the fact that America has barely changed since inception, Spike has again done what he has always done and made a movie that will hopefully cause some discourse among people who really need to have this conversation.
4 Catfishings out of 5