Regardless of what you think of Spike Lee and/or his politics, he makes some very fine films. Let’s just say, I think he hits more than he misses. Tackling the true story of police officer Ron Stallworth, his infiltration into the Colorado Springs Ku Klux Klan and his “relationship” with racist David Duke, Lee takes a daring step with how he handles fact from fiction. The hitch in BlacKkKlansman is that Ron Stallworth is a black man. So how does a black man get to be a card carrying member of the KKK? Simple. On the phone he is Ron Stallworth, but a white officer plays him at the meetings. In this film, Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver) is Ron Stallworth at the meetings.
This is a dangerous plan but it is fascinating how the story plays out and Spike Lee does a fine job keeping to the story without editorializing the material based on Ron Stallworth’s book. Yes, Lee cannot help himself in a couple of scenes in which he crams his own ideology down the viewer’s throats. But, overall, Spike Lee sticks to the characters and the story which is where BlacKkKlansman really shines. Powered by two Oscar worthy performances by John David Washington as Ron Stallworth and Driver as Flip, this film is funny, observant and intriguing. Despite what Lee tries to insinuate about most white people, we loath racists and these bums in the film were no exception. David Duke does not speak for 99.9% of all Americans and to make that claim is ludicrous.
So to those who know me and my politics, know that I have very little in common with Mr. Lee’s politics. So this review will be a bit shorter than others only because I will steer clear of the politics the best I can but since Mr. Lee has injected some of his views I have countered those views with my own opinions. However, agree or disagree, Spike Lee is an excellent director and this film is one of his better films. I didn’t mind his views, agree or disagree. I was actually pleasantly surprised to see a scene in which Ron Stallworth defends police officers. In a world and in an industry that usually dumps on police officers, I was very pleased to see a scene in which they are defended. Even more so that it was a Spike Lee film that did it.
BlacKkKlansman is an incredible true story. The comedy that ensues is fresh, inventive and based on truth which makes it all the more entertaining. Lee has crafted a rather entertaining story about real people doing a very dangerous job with some of the lowest slime on the planet. Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz, Kevin Willmott and Spike Lee, himself, have adapted Ron Stallworth’s book with intelligence, wit and a lot of heart. Mr. Stallworth has a good heart and wants to do well by his community, regardless of color and it shines through John David Washington’s endearingly winning performance. I also really enjoyed Terence Blanchard’s score which captures the time period perfectly.I could have done without the heavy handed finish which is a little too over the top for my tastes, but otherwise BlacKkKlansman is an immensely interesting and wild film and worthy of a viewing, politics aside.
BlacKkKlansman – **** out of 5
BlacKkKlansman – Rated R for language, some nudity, racial slurs and racial obscenities and violence
BlacKkKlansman – Run time is 135 minutes
BlacKkKlansman is now playing in theaters. Check your local listings for times and locations nearest you.