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Movie Review | BlacKkKlansman

John David Washington as Ron Stallworth in BlacKkKlansman

Movie Summary: 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. (IMDb)

Before BlacKkKlansman came out, many wondered if it was going to be this year's Get Out, because a lot of people apparently just see a mainly black cast in a serious, and often darkly humorous, film and automatically think: Get Out.

I'd actually say that this is closer to Detroit in what it's trying to do, but this movie is much, much more successful. It looks and sounds better, with mercifully little 'shaky-cam', and there are fewer plot threads and characters to follow and this allows the characters to truly shine.

Central to it all are John David Washington as Colorado Spring's first black cop, Ron Stallworth, and Adam Driver as his partner on this undercover assignment, Flip Zimmerman. Oh, Flip also becomes Ron Stallworth too.

There's a lot of humour to be had with the real Ron dealing with the 'organisation' over the phone, including Grand Wizard David Duke (Topher Grace), along with the rest of the Klan's local chapter. It's neatly juxtaposed with Zimmerman having to pass as Ron and coming face-to-face with the ugly nature of white American hate.

And holy crap is it ugly. I mean, I knew this going in. In Britain, we've got the 'gammons' rail-roading the country off the edge of a cliff because of the self-perceived superiority, but they've got nothing on the members of the Klan.

It's honestly sickening to watch at times, and my mind just can't process how people can think like they do - I'd literally find it impossible to do so. You can't even dismiss it as just a movie either, because these kinds of people get all the oxygen they want for their 'cause' right now.

That's one advantage that I think BlacKkKlansman has over the likes of The Disaster Artist or I, Tonya: relevancy. Those films were more about the lives of the central characters, but this is about society and the world that allows this kind of hate to persist for as long as it has.

Adam Driver as Flip Zimmerman in BlacKkKlansman

There's not even the solace of the 'white power' idiots in this film exposing themselves as some of the dumbest people around, because - again- they keep doing it today too. They are genuinely laughable people, and that just makes them all the scarier.

There is a lot of humour to be had in laughing at the members of the Klan here, because they are so pathetic, they are so stupid and so pathetic that they deserve to be laughed at. But they have power, and much like Detroit, this movie ends on a downbeat note, with the final montage perhaps being the most powerful section of the entire film.

In many ways, it feels like the film is nothing more than a set-up to that ending, but I don't think it could be any better done differently. It certainly doesn't harm the film, with Washington and Driver an excellent double act as the pair, a black man and a Jew, expose to the audience just how idiotic and terrifying the spectre of white 'supremacy' can be.

The only real criticism is that I think Laura Harrier, who plays Patrice Dumas - activist and Ron's love interest - doesn't quite work. Harrier is fine, but fine doesn't really cut it with such incendiary material. Patrice just feels like she's missing the spark that would get both Ron and the Klan interested in her - for different reasons, obviously.

That's about the only negative I have for BlacKkKlansman though. It's fantastically well-made, the performances are almost universally brilliant and the way director Spike Lee handles the material is masterful, with the disparate tones complementing each other perfectly rather than clashing.

BlacKkKlansman is not only one of the best films of 2018 so far, it's probably also the most important. It combines humour with horror, along with larger-than-life characters and incredible realism to really drive it home that this isn't just a period piece, it's also incredibly relevant to what's happening in the world right now.




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