Spike Lee’s next joint, “BlacKkKlansman,” is a gripping and comical representation on race wars in the 1970s and even some of the ones we still face today. It’s unbelievable in the ways it admits that whatever you’re gonna read in this review happened.
John David Washington (son of Denzel) stars as Ron Stallworth, the first African-American cop on the Colorado Springs PD, who has been raised right, despite all this racism, and is eager to become an undercover detective. He earns his first assignment: to attend a meeting at a Black college, where Stokely Carmichael (Corey Hawkins), changing his name to Kwame Ture, intends on making a speech about his people fighting the whites in what may soon become a race war. That’s what the police are worried about.
The next day, Ron finds a KKK ad in the newspaper and using his white voice and name, he calls the head of the union, Walter Breachway (Ryan Eggold), who agrees to meet him, and give him a membership. So, the precinct has white Detective Zimmerman (Adam Driver) playing Ron, while the real Ron makes the phone calls. Don’t worry, things will go easy, as long as they don’t find out he’s Jewish. That’s what KKK member Felix Kendrickson (Jasper Pääkkönen) suspects.
And to heat things up, the real Ron (still pretending to be white) gets in touch with David Duke (Topher Grace), the Grand Wizard and National Director of the KKK, who decides to come to Colorado Springs for his next rally and to meet him.
“BlacKkKlansman” explodes with such risks, laughs, and dangers. The movie has a blaxploitation quality that makes it a perfect film. You can tell by the brilliant dialogue, whether it’s for or against African-Americans, the true dramatization, and Spike Lee’s ode to the racist society. It reminds me of how his work delighted me with his portrait of “Malcolm X.” In fact, “BlacKkKlansman” is his best work in years.
The cast is outstanding. Washington has his father in him with his words and motivation (the fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree); Driver kills it with how his character never overacts even in his unexpected turns; Grace is hilarious with his clean behavior; and Eggold, Pääkkönen, and Paul Walter Hurst (“I, Tonya”) all add relish to the main KKK members.
We also get some other nice stars, whether in cameos or supporting roles. Laurie Harrier (“Spider-Man; Homecoming”) plays Patrice, an activist and student, whom Ron digs. He can’t tell her he’s undercover, especially since she loathes cops (or “pigs” as she calls them). Give her some credit for her Afro and ambitions.
And in cameos, we get Alec Baldwin as a racist reporter, who narrates a black and white movie about how African-Americans are monsters for raping women and killing white people; and Harry Belafonte as a speaker, who shares with the college students the horrors he has narrowly escaped from. And wait till you see Hawkins make his speech about fighting for equality; it’s “Malcolm X” fantastic.
I was more than hooked with the whole movie. Director Spike Lee and producer Jordan Peele (another bold movie he’s involved with after “Get Out”) both fight and fight. Now these are two filmmakers with guts and glory.