Spike Lee joints haven’t been good in quite some time. Spike Lee is by no means on my favorite filmmakers list but I felt like there has been a loss in quality in recent years for his directorial efforts. I thought BlacKkKlansman looked good from the trailer. It looked like a timely film that would touch on an important “true” story while presenting it with humor. I wasn’t overly moved by this film, however its the best thing that Lee has done in a long time and with some tweaking would have been a more succinct and quality film.
The film is based on a case involving first black detective in the Colorado Springs police department, Ron Stalworth. Ron lives in late 70s America, a time of heightened racial tensions. He soon finds himself infiltrating the Ku Klax Klan, by pretending to be a White nationalist on the phone. To keep up appearances and succeed with contact with the Klan, Stalworth’s Jewish detective partner becomes Stalworth when he meets the members of the organization. While there the duo learn about plans of an impending attack on African civil rights spokespersons.
I didn’t know this till after the film ended but the lead is Denzel Washington’s son. I haven’t really seen him in anything before but heard Denzel’s voice every time he spoke. Its a strong performance from him and everyone involved. I felt the film takes a while to really get into its groove. It sits and simmers for a while before getting into the interactions and infiltration of the Klan unit. It also feels like it lacks focus and the drive to tell its story in a succinct and effective manner. The film is much too long and also tries its best to tie its politics to today’s American climate, which I felt was too on the nose and not exactly required.
Its a serious incident (although the entirety of the events truths seem murky at places), but I did appreciate the deft comedic touches in the film. Its pretty funny and creative. the grand wizard of the Klan, David Duke, says he always knows when hes speaking to a black person yet is on the phone with one the entire team and can’t even realize it. In summary, the film would have been more effective had it been more condensed and had more focused storytelling, with less references to American political climate. The scenes after the film ended seemed really morbid for a film that could have been that way but actually wasn’t because of its tone. Still doesn’t change the fact that this is the best Spike Lee film in a long time and is up there in his directed work.