Rating (4 out of 5)
I am not a huge fan of Spike Lee, but thought the BlacKkKlansman was very good, and had he stuck to just telling the story, this was a great film. The movie does drag for a bit and does get a bit preachy which is why I have lowered this to an 4 versus a 5.
Story follows a blackman in the 1970’s who is the first to join the Colorado Springs police force. He eventually joins undercover squad. He then is scanning the paper for potential dangers to the community, starts an investigation of the KKK, where he becomes a member of the KKK. The rest of the story follows that investigation.
What I Liked: The discussion between Ron, our hero, and his girlfriend on how to bring about change was interesting. Can you work within the establishment and bring about change, or is that not possible, and change can only happen through revolution?
The phone calls with the KKK and David Duke were hysterical. When the Seargant listens in and they all laugh hysterically, I was right there laughing with them. Reading a Vanity Fair article, this was something (Article Link) really happened. In particular how white people and black people talk came up as a conversation. This is on top of Sorry to Bother You, where the white voice was also a theme.
The whole investigation, and how they infiltrated the KKK was really interesting. I was hooked in and wanted to see what happened. Really up to that point it was hard to tell it was a Spike Lee film.
Great performances across the board, but especially from John David Washington and Topher Grace. Always good to see Harry Belafonte.
What I didn’t Like: I consider myself a person of average intelligence. I get the point and themes underneath the top layer of a movie (most of the time). So the messages that Spike Lee had been sending for the previous 1 1/2 hours had received been received and I was supportive. Then he had to hit me over the head with message, harder and harder. There was the portion where the student union has someone talk of a lynching, and that is compared to the initiation ceremony of the KKK, and the KKK watching the Birth of a Nation, preaching and slowing down the meeting. To me this took energy out of the movie.
But oh, we weren’t done insulting me the viewer. Then at the end, we had to bring up the most recent events and have clips of those show at the end. I had received the message, now I was being pounded with the message, as though I were too stupid to pick it up before.
Finally, during the last scene of the story, Spike Lee uses a technic he uses in each of his movies. Since he hadn’t done artistic effects before, it felt out of place. Stop using this effect unless it is absolutely necessary.
I knocked a star off for the hammer approach to the message, and the part that dragged out at the end. I would see Blindspotting and Sorry to Bother You before this one, but this is a quality film.