Spike Lee does returneth with his latest film based on the true story and book from Ron Stallworth, an African-American police officer who infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan.
John David Washington (“Ballers (TV)”, “Monsters And Men”) plays Ron Stallworth, the first African-American police officer in the Colorado Springs Police Department in the late 1970’s.
Stallworth initially gets given the records room, but quickly becomes board, particularly with officer after officer coming in referring to black perps as ‘toads’, Frederick Weller (“Armageddon”, “The Shape Of Things”), one particular racist officer.
He approaches the Chief, Robert John Burke (“Tombstone”, “RoboCop 3”), and asks to be an undercover detective. When his chance comes, it’s to sit in on a speech from prominent speaker Kwame Ture, Corey Hawkins (“Straight Outta Compton”, “Kong: Skull Island“), and it’s where he meets Patrice Dumas, Laura Harrier (“Spider-man Homecoming“, “4th Man Out”), who runs the student union.
Inspired by the speech given by Ture, and spotting an ad in a local paper for the KKK, Stallworth picks up the phone and begins a dialogue with the head of the local chapter Walter Breachway, Ryan Eggold (“The Blacklist (TV)”, “Lovesong”), selling him a story that he’s a hard-working, god fearing, country-loving American, oh, and a white-man.
Breachway is hooked and invites Stallworth to meet. Obviously, he can’t go, so they send Flip Zimmerman, Adam Driver (“Logan Lucky“, “Star Wars: The Last Jedi“), in his place. A quiet, reluctant man, Zimmerman is also Jewish, another race of people the KKK don’t get along with.
Along with regular helper Jimmy Creek, Michael Buscemi (“Blended”, “B61”), the trio run rings round the local chapter, but things get even more surreal when Stallworth manages to begin having phone conversations with David Duke, Topher Grace (“Interstellar”, “Spider-Man 3”), the leader of the KKK.
Blackkklansman has to be Spike Lee’s best film for a long time, in my humble opinion at least. This is helped greatly by such an unbelievable story, whilst you’re watching it’s hard to believe it’s actually true!
Lee has also pulled together a stellar cast. Washington excels as Stallworth, he’s not dominant but inquisitive, he asks questions when people say something dumb, though you can see he’d also like to punch them in the mouth.
Driver is perfect as Zimmerman. He goes along for the ride initially, doing his job, but begins to question himself and his beliefs with all the KKK Jew-hating talk he must listen to whilst undercover.
Dumas, as Harrier, has the passionate student down to perfection. Her whole life is dedicated to the cause, she lives and breathes it constantly and is vocal whenever she gains the opportunity, something that makes her a target for the local KKK, in particular Jasper Paakonen’s character, Felix Kendrickson.
Blackkklansman is also funny, very funny. The whole premise is funny when you think about it, it’s one of those stories that leaves you wondering how on earth it could have happened. But happen it did, and Lee has done a great job of putting it on screen.
Throughout the film, you are acutely aware that we’re in the seventies; the big hair, the flares, the big collars etc. It makes the real-life video clips Spike Lee puts at the end of the movie even more shocking, if that’s possible.
We see real footage, shot by people who were there, of both white power and black lives matter marches taking place very recently, within the last few years. These are not for the faint-hearted, particularly the black lives matter one which sees a car plough into the main body of the march, Lee freezing and zooming in as bodies fly through the air. It’s a stark and shocking reminder that there’s a long way to go yet, for anything resembling equality.