BlacKkKlansman Review - Spike Lee's Triumphant Return

Projected Film: BlacKkKlansmen Review - Spike Lee's Triumphant Return

Runtime: 135mins | Director: Spike Lee | Rating: 5 Stars

As I’ve mentioned in past reviews, I’ve always had an obsession with America. Well, perhaps not an obsession, but a somewhat morbid curiosity.

To me, it has always seemed insane that a country can inspire so much hope in so many people whilst simultaneously preventing others from ever succeeding. Considering it’s frequently labelled ‘The Land of the Free’, America’s past is marred due to racism and slavery. What’s worse though, is that it is still a very real and relevant problem – and this is something that BlacKkKlansman highlights and tackles.

The film tells the story of Ron Stallworth (John David Washington) – the first African-American to join the Colorado Springs Police Department. After several weeks working in the filing department, Ron hungers for something more adventurous. This leads him to call the Ku Klux Klan pretending to be a white supremacist and then verbally infiltrate their organisation. Of course, Ron realises he can’t actually meet with the Klan, so he enlists the help of his fellow officer, Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver), to play his fictitious white self.

Projected Film: BlacKkKlansmen Review - Spike Lee's Triumphant Return

The plot of the film is so insane that it seems completely unbelievable that it ever happened. Yet, it did, and that is what makes it so fascinating. As you can imagine, Spike Lee, the Director, and Jordan Peele, the Producer, managed to cram in a vast amount of humour. After all – it’s not often you get to make a film about a black man joining the KKK! And, that is one of the truly brilliant things about BlacKkKlansman – it is genuinely laugh out loud funny at points.

However, despite the swathes of irony and amusing representations of the Klan members, there is an undeniably dark and tense atmosphere throughout the film.

As you watch and laugh at the Klan, you are lulled into a false sense of security that they’re just a bunch of uneducated people who couldn’t ever achieve anything. But, the film then brings you back to reality and you’re given blunt reminders that despite their ignorance and stupidity, their message is contagious. People do believe it, further fuelling violence and the perpetual racism that is an inherent problem in America.

Projected Film: BlacKkKlansmen Review - Spike Lee's Triumphant Return

This contrast in genre is present in Ron throughout the film too. Rather than just having the Klan as the protagonists throughout the film, the police force themselves are painted in swathes of grey.  

On one hand, Ron knows the police force is racist. They unnecessarily stop and search black people, they harass them for no reason and generally cause them misery. On the other, Ron knows that the people he works with are (for the most part) nice men looking to protect the city's citizens. This internal moral dilemma is only worsened when he gets involved with black activists and Brother Kwame Ture, who believe every police officer shouldn’t be trusted, even if they’re trying to do good – like Ron.  

Projected Film: BlacKkKlansmen Review - Spike Lee's Triumphant Return

Due to the unlikelihood and amusing plotline of the film, the events felt detached from reality at times. But, at the end of the film, Lee holds no punches and reminds the audience that this is a continuing and very real problem.

The film closes with footage of the Unite the Right rally which occurred in 2017, and the brutal car attack which tragically killed Heather Heyer – a white woman peacefully protesting against the alt-right rally. Not only is the ending an emotional sledgehammer and an immediate reality check too, but it is incredibly shocking. It begs the question, when will racism in America end? 

Unfortunately, the answer given isn’t an optimistic one.

Projected Film: BlacKkKlansmen Review - Spike Lee's Triumphant Return

BlacKkKlansman is a hard-hitting film and a return to glory for Spike Lee who hasn’t been in his cinematic prime for a while. Serving both a laugh out loud comedy and also an indictment of America’s continuing racism (and choice of President…), it’s not a film to be missed. Go and see it. 

To find out how accurate BlacKkKlansman was, read this interesting article - click here.

To watch the trailer – click here


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