“BlacKkKlansman” was directed by Spike Lee and stars John David Washington, Adam Driver, Laura Harrier and Topher Grace. The film is based on the true story of Ron Stallworth, the first black police officer in his Colorado town, who went undercover using a white surrogate to successfully infiltrate and gain information on the Ku Klux Klan.
Spike Lee is one of those directors that always gets me excited, even if he doesn’t always hit it out of the park. The man is controversial and has a great directorial prowess, and this film looked to be right in his wheelhouse. The trailer did nothing but build my excitement, and I came in hoping for some laughs, and a whole lot of political commentary.
Both Washington and Driver are equally terrific in this movie, both playing their version of Ron Stallworth in exceptional ways.
First for Washington, he is able to show a lot of conflict and a lot of subtle anger through only facial expressions in the film, giving his character a lot of layers that I didn’t expect, while also hitting on the comedy. Driver on the other hand has to play a guy playing a guy who is extremely racist, and he somehow manages to do that very well. I like his back and forth with Washington about having his own stakes in this investigation versus doing his job, and the two made for a pair of equally interesting points of view on the matter.
I love the direction that Lee brought to this story, especially when it comes to his ability to blend genres. On a comedic level, there are plenty of moments scattered throughout that easily get a laugh. But, often even more special was how Lee brought important commentary to the storyline. Washington’s character is very well crafted and the story has a lot of ideas of doing your job versus starting a revolution, and Lee was able to target these ideas without making it too radical either way.
The supporting cast did great work in having standout moments, even with Washington and Driver’s terrific work, and that is especially true with Grace. Grace shines in his scenes as KKK leader David Duke, stepping out of his Eric Forman persona to successfully play a very racist, sometimes dumb but always charismatic leader that was constantly entertaining to watch.
On the other end of things, Jasper Paakkonen was great as the awful human being of Felix, always embodying the perfect racist counter to everything that Washington and Driver worked for. I also loved Paul Walter Hauser’s supporting role, doing much of what he did in “I, Tonya” again here, mastering the character of a bumbling idiot.
The editing in this movie is great as well, with a lot of shots and pans mixing up the norm, and I loved the style used by Lee and cinematographer Chayse Irvin, who combined to make a visually stimulating film from start to finish.
At 135 minutes, the film starts off quite slow, and I think there are a few scenes in specific that could have been cut down to speed it up. A certain speech and a scene following that at a bar easily could be cut in half, and that would have helped with the pacing overall. The movie is very smoothly paced for the most part, but I found the first act to start sluggish.
This is based on a true story, so I understand why it didn’t end as perfectly as I would have wanted. But, there still feels like there could have been more closure than Lee gives, and it would have made for an ending I would have remembered more. Yes, I understand the message Lee gives by the end, but I do think that for the movie itself, there could have been an ending that hit harder or gave more of a cohesive closing.
“BlacKkKlansman” is a great film to add to Lee’s resume, and features two of the best performances of the summer in Washington and Driver. The film is consistently funny, and equally powerful, and offers some highlight moments, even through all the brutal profanity, and I mean brutal. “Sorry to Bother You” may not have been as amazing as I had hoped, but “BlacKkKlansman” delivered on nearly all of its promises to make up for it.
What did you think of “BlacKkKlansman”? Comment below with your thoughts.