‘BlacKkKlansman’ speaks out against hate with style


Adam Driver and John David Washington in “BlacKkKlansman.” US Weekly’s Image

One of Spike Lee’s best movies to date, “BlacKkKlansman” had me laughing, cringing, gasping and gripping the edge of my seat. It’s a multifaceted satirical social commentary, disguised as a detective thriller, with a lot to say about modern society and politics.

The film follows protagonist Ron Stallworth (John David Washington), the “Jakie Robinson” of black detectives in Colorado Springs, Colorado, as he attempts to infiltrate the Ku Klux Klan over the phone. When the organization wants to meet face to face, Stahlworth recruits his colleague Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver) to talk to the KKK in person.

The film aims to make an impact on its viewers. Lee isn’t afraid to get in your face with a slough of intense scenes and aggressive dialogue. That being said, he does a great job of pulling back and balancing the intensity with jokes, lighthearted dancing scenes and a catchy soundtrack.

For the most part, the KKK members are portrayed as stupid. However, the film seeks to illustrate how dangerous a stupid person with a powerful voice can be.

The talented cast of the film does a great job bringing its dynamic characters to life. Both of the leads, played by John David Washington and Adam Driver, have captivating and enthralling screen presences, giving the film texture and style while making its smart writing shine.

Lee has a lot to say here, but the core message speaks out against all hate. He does a great job giving fair analysis to both sides. It’s obvious from start to finish why the KKK’s views are flawed. However, the film also does a great job of exploring why hate, on the side of victims, can be dangerous too.

He does this predominately through a series of conversations, peppered throughout the whole narrative, between the lead and his love interest, who is involved with The Black Panthers. These conversations have some of the sharpest dialogue in the film, at times even managing to dance between references to sociologist W.E.B Du Bois and terms like “Jive Turkey” in the same sentence.

After masterfully delineating Lee’s point in a very watchable way, the end of the film beat me over the head with its intended message. I observed a plethora of gasps, applause and open jaws as the credits rolled, leaving me with no doubt that the film made its intended impact.

4.5 out of 5 stars

Grant Schmieding can be reached at [email protected] or @G_Schmieding on Twitter.