"Dis joint is based upon some fo' real, fo' real sh*t" proclaims the opening titles - or in other words this movie is based upon a true story. Spike Lee, one of the industry's most influential directors of colour, returns to the silver screen with yet another potent story concerning a black icon. Adapted from the pages of Ron Stallworth's gripping memoir, BlacKkKlansman tells the unlikely story of a black police officer who infiltrated the KKK during the 1970's.
Compelled by a powerful screenplay Lee's latest racial satire is slick, relevant and marvellously thought provoking. BlacKkKlansman pits the KKK against black civil rights activists in a captivating tale that examines American social prejudice, and how to achieve equality through passive methods in the face of violent provocation. Lee formulates some of this year's most shocking images - in particular a distressing scene that cuts between a KKK meeting and a black power conference. Contrasting the motives of the two organisations, Lee highlights the anguish of one community whilst simultaneously highlighting the evil means behind the executors of that pain.
Where Lee's dual oscar nominated work in Malcom X starred the exemplary Denzel Washington - BlacKkKlansman features his hugely talented son John David Washington as lead Ron Stallworth. Smooth talking, eager young rookie Ron is a courageous man who makes a string of bold decisions that somehow work perfectly in his favour. His character is involved with violent acts on both sides yet he rises above throughout - Ron is emblematic of the process we should take to overcome discrimination. Spiderman: Homecoming's Laura Harrier also makes a stunning turn as strong-willed student activist Patrice Dumas.
Notwithstanding Lee's riveting screenplay BlacKkKlansman is deliberately and painstakingly slow moving. Following Ron through his time at the Colorado Springs Police Department, the film takes an unhurried trip through every fine detail of the investigation. The downside is that scenes drag on a little too long and the flick becomes - at times - a tad difficult to sit through. Moreover BlacKkKlansman unfortunately doesn't use its 70's cop style to its full potential - there are some down right groovy split screen sequences but alas they are used too sparingly.
All being said, it's really the sucker punch dialog that drives BlacKkKlansman home. Lee balances a dark, sinister tone with a wickedly comical script that sickens you to your core in some moments but busts your ribs in others. Lee crafts many powerful images that ring true, and regardless of its challenging pacing and that it somewhat missed a trick in terms of style, dis Spike Lee joint concludes with an extremely haunting and suitably uncomfortable ending.
Pinch of info
Hi I’m James - a huge welcome to my film blog! I started this site just after my 14th birthday and have been bringing you my own take on the hottest box office arrivals and many art house triumphs ever since.