Directed by the venerable Spike Lee, BlacKkKlansman follows the true story of the first black police officer in Colorado Springs, Ron Stallworth, as he tries to take down the KKK during the 1970s.
Inhabiting the lead role is Denzel Washington’s son, John David Washington. While this is his first major cinematic role, he proves to be an actor that possesses the same natural on-screen charisma that his father does.
Adam Driver plays the other half to Washington’s Stallworth, in a performance that is serviceable, but pales in comparison to the other many excellent portrayals in the film. In particular, Topher Grace surprises and delights in a villainous role, exuding genuine malice underneath his boyish exterior as Grand Wizard of the KKK, David Duke.
The most important thing about this film is Spike Lee’s ability to connect fantasy with reality. While the story of BlacKkKlansman is based on true events, the way Lee presents them in the film is so absurd that it seems entirely removed from reality. However, that is precisely his point. Looking back today, the Klu Klux Klan are seen as so comically evil that they cannot possibly exist in the modern world. However, as Lee shows, while the name is gone, their ideals and hatred are still very much alive in America.
After the feel-good conclusion of the film’s story, Lee delivers a gut punch with an ending sequence that might just be one of the most powerful emotional moments in cinema this year, juxtaposing the events of the film with footage of the Charlottesville riots. The point made is a clear and sobering one.
With BlacKkKlansman, Spike Lee demonstrates an excellent return to form with one of the best releases of this year so far. The rare film that is both entertaining and enjoyable to watch, as well as delivering a clear and relevant message in the current political climate.