Run Time: 2 hr 15 min
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 97%/78%
Blackkklansman is a Crime Comedy inspired by an actual event. Jordan Peele and Spike Lee brought us the hard to believe true story of Ron Stallworth (John David Washington), a rookie, and the only Black detective on the Colorado Springs Police Department who was able to get full membership into the terrorist organization, the Ku Klux Klan. After seeing a recruitment ad in the newspaper Detective Stallworth calls the number listed and after proclaiming his hatred for all races except white people, he impresses the chapter enough to warrant a face-to-face meeting. Detective Stallworth’s small victory is ruined when he realizes he gave his real name over the phone. So Stallworth asks for Detective Zimmerman (Adam Driver), who just so happens to be Jewish, to pretend to be him in order to infiltrate the Klan. This film gives us a no holds barred look into racism in America, but was this movie as great as the concept or did it bomb harder than Chi-raq (another Spike Lee Joint that I am certain you did not see….no one did)?
Spike Lee is no stranger to crossing boundaries and bringing issues within the Black community to the big screen; this film is no exception. When I first saw the trailer for this film I thought there would be an outcry from the white community because he was touching on the topic of racism in this manner. But to my surprise, the viewing I attended was well mixed and while I think some people thought they were coming to see a Kevin Hart style comedy; they were actually forced to look at America through I different lens and they seemed alright with that. This was the first time I sat in a movie theatre and felt like the white attendees were moved and understood what the Black experience is like in this country just a little bit. So, a film I honestly expected to divide actually united and I left the theatre very happy about that.
Another thing I liked about this movie was that it showed how much Spike Lee’s style of directing has evolved over the years. While this film had some of the Spike Lee signatures (short song/dance number and the infamous zoomed in moving still camera shot), the direction was much more subtle and he even managed to make some of the Klan members likeable to an extent. In the past I always felt that his lightning choices were questionable because his films just felt dark and heavy but I didn’t get that vibe with this one. For example, his lighting choices in a very powerful “Black Power Rally” scene were amazing and added a layer of beauty I was not expecting.
John David Washington (Stallworth), Adam Driver (Zimmerman), and Jasper Pääkkönen (Felix) gave the best performances in this film. The chemistry between Washington and Driver really helped show the slow progression of the respect and camaraderie that developed with Stallworth and Zimmerman. But Jasper Pääkkönen was the breakout star for me. His portrayal of klansman Felix Kendrickson was brilliant. He brought this character to life in such a way that whenever he was on the screen my skin crawled. From the beginning Feliz never trusted anyone and while this character is a racist piece of shit, he was very intelligent,intuitive, and I was absolutely convinced that he would get the best of Stallworth and Zimmerman; and he may have (no spoilers).
The ending of this film is one of the most powerful endings I have seen in a movie in a very long time. If you thought the silence was thick at the end of Avengers: Infinity War, you ain’t seen nothing yet! The ending was so moving that the elderly white man sitting next to me was crying and said his heart was broken. I told him this hatred is just too much and he agreed. This movie came out at the perfect time and I know that it will bring change on some level within someone. Spike Lee had a statement to make and it was heard loud and clear.
Blackkklansman is easily one of the best movies of the year and if it does not receive either a Best Screenplay nomination or Best Director, I will be pissed! This movie is right on time for the current state of affairs in America and it always saddens me to see a period piece being just as relevant today as the time it was set in. Stories of hate crimes, police brutality, and social injustice are still prevalent today and having to stew in our own mess for 2 hours is quite cathartic. It is obvious that this Sista Gurl overwhelmingly recommends you go see this incredible film. Great acting, wonderful directing, and a compelling true story…you can’t go wrong with that!