Director Spike Lee has always been a provocateur with his film output, Do the Right Thing, and Malcolm X being his most notable examples. So a movie with the name BlacKKKlansman, you’re bound to piss some people off. But the sad thing is, as off putting as the title may be, this is one of the most important films of the year, if not the decade.
Ron Stallworth (John David Washington) is the first African-American to join the Colorado Springs Police Force. He joins a task force along with fellow officers Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver) and Jimmy Creek (Michael Buscemi). While coming across an ad for Klan recruits in the paper, Stallworth decides to call them for shits and giggles, and actually gets a meeting. With Flip acting as his surrogate, they manage to infiltrate the Klan and get closer to “National Director” David Duke (Topher Grace).
With a premise like that it, it has to be a comedy, right? Well, it sure as shit has humor (more of the ironic variety), but it is a drama. Hell, this is a true story. The film manages to illicit laughs at the expense of the Klan members while also treating them as serious threats, because racists believe their own bullshit. It’s a mix of both humor and disgust, which Lee manages to blend both expertly.
Something that I was so thoroughly impressed with was the treatment of the police officers in the movie. While it does touch on the systematic racism within the department, but it does show us the bond and brotherhood that comes with the job. Stallworth, Zimmerman, and Creek are a team that have each others backs, with one tense sense where one character risks his life so his partner doesn’t get killed. Its impressive how the movie doesn’t paint any of these characters as “black and white” but that it all exists in shades of grey.
BlacKKKlansman is just a film that needs to be seen at least once; with the current social and political climate, Spike Lee has made a movie that is a painful reminder that hate will always be there to be fought, and that almost 50 years after the events of the movie, have we really changed as a society?