Saturday, August 25, 2018

BlacKKKlansman - Movie Review

The Movie: BlacKKKlansman

The Director: Spike Lee

The Cast: John David Washington, Adam Driver, Laura Harrier, Robert John Burke, Ken Garito, Frederick Weller, Michael Buscemi, Corey Hawkins

The Story: Ron Stallworth, an African-American police officer from Colorado, successfully manages to infiltrate the local Ku Klux Klan with the help of a white surrogate, who eventually becomes head of the local branch.

The Review:
Spike Lee is one of my all time favorite directors and Do the Right Thing is one of my all time favorite movies so of course, I was looking forward to seeing his latest effort, especially since the subject matter is right in his wheelhouse. The story is based on true events and was adapted from the novel written by Ron Stallworth, the subject of the story itself. With Spike at the helm, I knew this was going to be a somewhat stylized interpretation of the story rather than a documentary style retelling which was all well and good and the results were about as spot on as what I was expecting.

While the film is very well put together and Spike tells the story in a very entertaining way, I was never as emotionally invested as I thought I was going to be. While there is a lot of powerful messaging, I felt like he was going more for the entertainment angle than really digging deep into more thought provoking territory and the heavy amount of humor is there to soften the blow. That being said, the ending is a big gut punch and a definitive wake up call that is there to tell everyone who will listen that, even with all the strides we seem to have made with racial equality, nothing has really changed in a lot of people's minds.

John David Washington, who is most known for his work on the Ballers TV show although he did have a small part in Malcolm X which was also directed by Spike Lee, does a fantastic job of playing Ron Stallworth with a solid mix of gravity and humor. He seems to fully understand the real life character he is portraying while also buying into Spike's unique style of story telling. Matching him up with Adam Driver was a great move as he brings such a distinct personality to his roles and is just so likable and relatable no matter what type of person he is putting on screen.

Another great casting move was bringing in Laura Harrier to play the bold and powerful, yet completely fictional, student organizer Patrice Dumas. She looked so familiar to me and then I finally realized she was Liz Toomes, Peter's dream girl, in Spider-Man: Homecoming. After watching her easily handle a big budget Marvel movie, I had felt Harrier was destined for big things and seeing her performance in this movie only solidifies that opinion. The rest of the cast is solid across the board including some great work from Michael Buscemi, Ken Garito, and Topher Grace who takes on the role of KKK Grand Wizard David Duke.

The Verdict:
BlacKKKlansman is a powerful and necessary movie that mixes in humor to help with the hard to swallow pill that is racism in America. This is basically Spike yelling "Look at all the racism, it still exists" to mainstream America in hopes of bringing awareness and context to what we see from the media every day.

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