Plot – Ron Stallworth, an African American police officer from Colorado Springs, CO, successfully manages to infiltrate the local Ku Klux Klan branch with the help of a Jewish surrogate who eventually becomes its leader. Based on actual events – BlackKklansman
Director – Spike Lee
Released – 2018
If you liked: In Bruges, A Time To Kill, Fargo
Colorado Springs in the late 1970s wasn’t a welcoming place for Ron Stallworth (Washington) the first black officer in CSPD history, facing prejudice and racism from both members of the public and his fellow police officers alike, but when given the chance to work in the undercover department, he takes it with both hands, making contact with the local KKK over the phone and then with the help of white officer Detective Zimmerman (Driver) infiltrates the group with the hope of bringing it down from the inside.
As someone who definitely thinks that Spike Lee was robbed when Malcolm X didn’t win an Oscar for best picture back in 1993, I’ve been eagerly waiting for another of his films that could challenge in the same way and ideally go one better, unfortunately, most of his work has recently been less mainstream and therefore flew under the radar, that is until Blackkklansman came along, it’s certainly a lot more mainstream than his recent work and although it does contain some interesting twists, it definitely geared up much more they win awards.
Billed for the most part as a crime drama that deals with some pretty heavy subject matter, the film does contain a good amount of comedy and light-hearted moments, this actually added to the film as it made the characters involved a lot more natural, this was also aided by strong acting throughout, especially Driver and Washington, who certainly takes after his father Denzel.
One of the films biggest qualities is its ability to switch from light heated to hard-hitting moments at the drop of a hat, with some more heart-wrenching moments such as a monologue by Harry Belafonte and the ending that uses real footage from around the US being particularly hard to watch but adding so much in terms of emotion and make the political overtones of history repeating itself all the scarier.
For the most part, I did enjoy the film though I did feel that there were some slight pacing issues and that some secondary characters did seem like they were only there to pad out a quite generous run time, this definitely true of Laura Harrier’s character Patrice Dumas, the black panther and Stallworth’s love interest, who for large portions of the film is just missing and you forget about her until she appears again near the end of the film, at this point you just don’t have any connection to the character.
Another of the issues I found when watching the film was some editing choices made by Lee, such as one scene where a character is giving a speech and rather than showing the audience he made the choice to show individual people listening as floating heads, which although you can see what he was going for, just doesn’t work and takes you out of the scene.
Overall, Blackkklansman is a fun, inspiring and sometimes hard-hitting look at what some men were willing to do to make the world a better place, something that is just as important now as it was back then.