By: Nick Dybel
Spike Lee’s latest joint is a wonderfully told true story of a black man infiltrating the Klu Klux Klan and the chaos that ensues. (Spoilers ahead)
BlacKkKlansmen is one of the year’s best movies thus far, thanks to director Spike Lee’s combination of disturbing humor, a riveting tale of racial tensions, and 70’s funk.
John David Washington (Denzel Washington’s son) stars as Ron Stallworth, the real life officer who comes up with a ploy to investigate the KKK. Adam Driver, Laura Harrier, and Topher Grace all have major roles that are executed near-perfectly.
The story begins as Stallworth is inducted as Colorado Springs’ first black police officer in the 1970’s. One day he calls the local Klan chapter and decides to have fellow officer Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver) attend the meetings for him due to his, well, complexion.
Stallworth and Zimmerman work their way up the ranks of the Klan chapter, Stallworth even gaining the friendship of David Duke, the Grand Wizard of the KKK, over the phone.
Working as security for a Klan event, Stallworth realizes a Klansman’s wife is leaving to plant a bomb at a local civil rights rally, and rushes after her to defuse it. While trying to arrest the woman, Stallworth is detained by police for tackling her, despite telling them he is undercover.
The bomb goes off, killing only three Klan members who were driving by. Stallworth, Zimmerman, and their team are commended for their work, but are ordered to keep it quiet by the chief of police.
The film concludes with real life footage of the rallies in Charlottesville, Virginia and President Trump’s statements afterwards.
Washington plays Stallworth with gusto and portrays the eagerness and boldness the real-life Stallworth detailed in his book with ease.
Spike Lee does a great job of keeping viewers engaged through a balancing act between the hilarity of the bizarre situation and the darker, disturbing elements of the Klu Klux Klan.
One particularly discomforting scene is when a Klansmen and his wife are in bed, lovingly chatting about their passionate hatred for black people. This scene and others are used to show the absurdity of the racial beliefs of the time period of white supremacists, and to build tension towards Stallworth’s interaction with the Klan.
Lee intrigues viewers with his diverse characterization of the Klansmen.
For most of the movie, David Duke is seen sitting at his desk talking to Stallworth, and he seems like a nice guy who just happens to run the KKK. Some of the Klansmen are portrayed as polite and well-mannered, others as disgusting and cold, showing that racism is not exclusive to one certain type of people.
At the film’s end, when clips of riots, fights, and cars speeding into crowds are played, the gap between past and present is closed, and it shows that progress still needs to be made in the fight for racial equality. The film shows an inspiring racial movement within a community, but assures the viewer that the United States is still full of discrimination over 40 years later.
Still, BlacKkKlansmen portrays a win for black rights in its story. A concluding scene where Stallworth and his buddies are snickering around his desk, telling David Duke on the phone that he has been chatting with a black man for months cements this sentiment.
BlacKkKlansmen has garnered ratings of 7.9/10 on IMDB and 95% on Rotten Tomatoes, along with overall positive reviews from many publications.
If you didn’t have the privilege of enjoying this movie in theaters, make sure to watch it immediately when it is available to rent or stream.