Based on a true story and set in the early 1970s, “BlacKkKlansman” follows Ron Stallworth (John David Washington), the first black detective in Colorado Springs, as he conducts a plan to infiltrate and expose the Ku Klux Klan (K.K.K.) with the help of his Jewish coworker Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver).
The screenwriting for the film was absolutely fantastic, which is almost a given when talking about a cinematic icon like Spike Lee. Not only were the films truthful aspects executed in a way that was genuine, Lee’s original additions added comedy, thrill, and suspense, which gave me chills during the end credits. While Lee’s films tend to center around provocative topics like race and, in particular, black hardships, I struggle to say that “BlacKkKlansman” is a “black” film. It combines elements of corruption, bravery, comedy, friendship, and love so cohesively that the audience in the movie theater gave it a standing ovation. I’ve seen a lot of movies, but I’ve never seen that before.
Lee brought film back to the essence of what it should be, more than entertainment or education or documentation. Film should move people, and “BlacKkKlansman” did just that.
The whole cast of “BlacKkKlansman,” from David Duke (Topher Grace) to Stallworth’s love interest and social activist Patrice (Laura Harrier), carried their weight as powerful and vivid characters. Washington definitely made his mark on the film as Stallworth. The charm that he added to the character through his delivery of his comedic bits as well as his more passionate scenes resulted in a performance that would be hard for me to forget. Although I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: Driver’s versatility as an actor is unparalleled by today’s actors.
Furthermore, I can’t talk about Lee without talking about his classic shooting style. From his sidewalk or long hallway walking shots to his dramatically angled closeups, his techniques are incorporated and executed perfectly in this film. Spike Lee’s shots and camera movements convey moments of power or weakness or fear without a single word of dialogue. Especially in the climactic scenes between the detectives and the K.K.K., Lee’s camerawork makes already suspenseful scenes feel more claustrophobic than usual.