BlacKkKlansman: All Power To All The People
Review by Aaron Haughton
Spike Lee is back to drop another joint on us — his best and most important film since Do the Right Thing — and he's angrier than ever. BlacKkKlansman seeks to demonstrate the lack of progression that America has had over the last 60 years, and it does so with furious gusto, finding Lee at his most potent, topical, satirical and controversial.
Spike Lee has never really been one for subtlety, and BlacKkKlansman is no exception. His heavy-handed, in-your-face tactics shine well here, and his rage and satire land powerful shots to the mind, the body and the soul. The film is very much a middle finger to Trump's America, and it's probably the most wildly scathing and entertaining anti-Trump indictment that we'll see all year.
As both the film and its trailer point out, it's based on some “fo real, fo real shit" — that of the first African-American detective to serve in the Colorado Springs Police Department, Ron Stallworth, and his successful infiltration of the KKK in the early 70s. Lee's intention here to "shake people from their slumber" and he pulls this off through pure electric shock and vehement outrage.
Sometimes at odds with itself tonally, with a handful of moments that don't exactly gel and several scenes that seem to go on too long (although, I personally wasn't bothered, but definitely felt the length later in the film), BlacKkKlansman, similar to Inside Man, doesn't always feel like a Spike Lee joint, but it's not without moments and visual sparks that serve as a reminder that he's the one with his finger on the trigger. And let's face it, it's really only a film that Lee could deliver.
Somewhat of a long-winded meander, the film doesn't always fire on all cylinders, but when it does, it's a pure joy. One of the film's stronger qualities is Lee and editor Barry Alexander Brown's use of juxtaposition between the Black Power movement and the KKK, which makes for some interesting and engaging moments that become fully realized in the film's final mic-drop, a crossover to verité that shifts everything into clear focus.
Peppered with fantastic cinematography by Chayse Irvin and ripe with phenomenal performances (particularly from star on the rise John David Washington and the always great Adam Driver), BlacKkKlansman is very much a film of its time (despite taking place nearly 50 years ago), and it's the angry call to action that we need.
It may drag its feet from time to time, but it ultimately finds its stride, and it definitely has a lot to say. At times, it hits a little too close to home, like when Ron Stallworth (John David Washington) laughs at the notion that America would elect a man like David Duke to be President of the United States, but these gut-punching moments of saddening reality only add to the film's power.
BlacKkKlansman may be uneven with some moments that don't exactly play out as well as they should, but it's a thoroughly entertaining film from one of cinemas hardest hitting provocateurs, who has finally found a return to form. The film explodes into theaters on August 10th and will be igniting conversation amongst its viewers shortly thereafter.
Rating: 4 afros outta 5.
What do you think? Are you excited for another Spike Lee joint?! We want to know. Share your thoughts and feelings in the comments section below, and as always, remember to viddy well!