If there was one allegorical story about racism in America that should have won best picture: it definitely should have been BlacKkKlansman. Disguised as a “black” comedy, Spike Lee’s subversive film does exactly what it sets out to do: make you very, very, appropriately uncomfortable.
It’s hard for us young(ish) people to know, but racial strife was an almost constant source of tension not too long ago. Ron Stallworth (John David Washington) is the first black cop in Colorado Springs. And while his chief is more concerned about radical Black Panther’s stirring up trouble at the local college, Ron decides to call up the Ku Klux Klan and try to get a membership. Owing to his “white” voice, he succeeds, and sends fellow cop Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver) in to infiltrate the group. Hoping to prove that the Klan is more than just a political group, but a terrorist organization. Which honestly, has been proven time and time again in US history and it’s always horrifying.
The original premise is hilarious. A black man convincing a black hating white man that he’s a white man on the phone. It’s like a Dave Chappelle sketch. Except, as it goes deeper, it gets more disturbing.
The film is well made, well-acted, and surprisingly well paced for a movie clocking in at 2:15. John David Washington could easily be a star and Adam Driver proves himself once more. But, as expected with a Spike Lee joint, the movie is more about the message than the story. Especially true, when you read the a majority of the plot of the film didn’t happen the way they said it did, and is in fact an amalgamation of several stories.
Unlike Green Book, Lee brings the point to an excruciating home at the end. The movie takes place in the 70s but it is not content to let you think this problem is over. The film ends with footage of those Charlottesville rallies, white men yelling “Jews will not replace us!”, the villain of the film David Duke giving a speech during those rallies, Trump declaring that there are “good people on both sides” when one side are literal Nazis, and finally the death of Heather Heyer in 2017. Again, by a literal Nazi. BlacKkKlansman says it loud and clear: this fight is not over.
3.5 out of 4 stars