REVIEW: BlacKkKlansman (2018)

Spike Lee’s latest cinematic endeavour is based on a bizarre true story where two cops of separate race are infiltrating the KKK. Adam Driver is physically interacting with the dangerous group while John David Washington is talking on the phone with them.

BlacKkKlansman was refreshingly bombastic in its political tone and the movie also manages to function as a solid ‘push and pull’ piece of entertainment: it makes a good push at having a sense of humour about some fairly sensitive subjects but it’s also not afraid to pull back at certain moments when the stakes are high. By and large, this movie was both competently amusing and also institutionally relevant.

John David Washington, who plays Ron Stallworth, delivered a charismatic turn as the risk-taking detective. He’s a man who cares about the people but doesn’t compromise his own moral compass and diligent professionalism.

This movie depicts two extreme sides in the ‘white power’ and ‘black power’ movements but smack bang in the middle you’ve got Stallworth(s) who’s trying to destabilise the KKK from the inside. He’s a fun character, he never does things the easy way, and he has no problem at faking this severely bigoted façade he puts on to the KKK. It’s both cleverly refreshing and refreshingly funny to see that kind of protagonist in a film like this.

Adam Driver is equally excellent as Zimmerman, who also shows uncompromising diligence on the job even though his character is Jewish,;you root for him because of how well he masks himself when he’s with members of the KKK.

It’s difficult to discuss this movie and not mention politics and race. The movie mainly plays itself up for entertainment but there’s so much painful echoes of today’s society in how racism is viewed. In parts, it left me unsettled but that is the reality we’re living in.

The movie provides a healthy dose of reality and consequences, but at its core it takes advantage of its incredibly strange scenario and thus it won a good few laughs from me. The characters are good, the tension is well established, and Spike Lee’s direction is spot on with its tonal balance. I do feel that the movie is a bit too long and a lot of the dialogue is very repetitive, but there’s a lot that worked here. I enjoyed it, and it’s definitely one I’d recommend.

Written by Seán Mac G.

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