Spike Lee is one of cinema’s most iconic filmmakers. Although his collection of work can often vary between timeless (Malcom X) and turgid (She Hate Me) there’s no denying he has been making non-conventional and highly talked about movies for over 30 years. His films are often emotional, bold and politically charged, and this is all on full display once again in his latest, the poetic and potent BlacKkKlansman.
The movie tells the outrageous true story of Ron Stallworth (John David Washington, son of Denzel) an African-American police officer from Colorado, who successfully manages to infiltrate the local Ku Klux Klan with the help of a white surrogate named Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver).
BlacKkKlansman has been released at an incendiary time in American politics. The film is filled to the brim with truly vile and racially charged language, so brutal that it actually becomes difficult to stomach at times. This really is no holds barred stuff, making the movie all the more powerful for it.
This so crazy it can only be true story is a blast from start to finish, leaving you equally bewildered and in hysterics as you watch these unlikely events unfold. Despite its hard-hitting message at its core, it’s nevertheless a ridiculously entertaining, if slightly overlong, and very funny tale of this mismatched duo fighting for what they believe in.
This cannot work without stellar performances across the board from a seriously talented cast, especially leading men Washington and Driver. Washington can on occasions convey some of the familiar mannerisms and gestures of his legendary father, but still holds his own and delivers a calm yet confident leading man. Driver has also never been better, delivering a compelling and charming turn whilst adding a strong layer of emotion to his character which I did not expect.
Topher Grace also delivers possibly his finest performance to date portraying the Klan’s Grand Wizard David Duke and a special mention must also go to Alec Baldwin and Corey Hawkins, who deliver fine scene-stealing work in their small roles.
This is also easily the best Spike Lee has been since 2006’s Inside Man, and in my eyes his most accomplished work of the century. Lee directs wonderfully, keeping it very personal and real but always maintaining a stunning look about it. From the Baldwin-induced opener to the gorgeous framing of the final scene, Lee has packed the film with so many breath-taking visuals.
The ending leaves the films on an almighty high, or maybe as a low depending on how you view it. We finish with a montage which I dare not spoil, but it left me in complete shock. It shows this film was seriously needed, and the problems faced in the film are far from over in the real world, even in 2018. This is not just a movie, it is an experience and is hands down the most important film of the year. Not to be missed.
Verdict: Hilarious yet harrowing, thrilling yet taut, BlacKkKlansman is essential viewing and one of the best films of 2018 so far. Spike Lee is well and truly back.
Best Moment: Adam Driver has a lie detector test