MOVIE REVIEW: BlacKkKlansman magnifies the sad reality of racism in modern-day America
Adam Driver and John David Washington star in their respective roles as Flip Zimmerman and Ron Stallworth. Photo: Universal Pictures International.
By Amanda Murthy
If there is one movie this month that will leave you in stunned silence, followed by a roaring applause, this is it.
From visionary filmmaker Spike Lee – presented by Universal Pictures International – comes the story of an American hero who was at the right place, at the right time, and did the right thing.
Produced by the team behind the Academy Award-winning Get Out, BlacKkKlansman offers an unflinching, true-life examination of race relations in 1970s America that is just as bracingly relevant in today’s tumultuous world.
Ron Stallworth (John David Washington) becomes the first African-American detective on the Colorado Springs Police Department, but his arrival is greeted with scepticism and open hostility by the department’s rank and file.
As a result, he is placed in the records department for the first few weeks, where his afro-hairdo becomes the target of racial insults.
Stallworth eventually gets his first stint as an undercover cop, and is assigned to report on a Black Student Union event, involving Black Panther ex-leader Stokley Carmichael (Corey Hawkins), also known as Kwame Ture.
It is there that he meets his love interest, President of the Black Student Union, Patrice Dumas (Laura Harrier), who blatantly refers to police officers as “pigs”.
John David Washington (as Detective Ron Stallworth) with co-star Laura Harrier (Patrice Dumas) in the 70s’ real-life story BlacKkKlansman. Photo: Universal Pictures International.
Determined to make a name for himself and a difference in his community, Stallworth answers a Ku Klux Klan (KKK) newspaper ad, putting on a believable “white” accent, to the humour of his colleagues.
Stallworth obviously can’t attend the meetings, so his partner of Jewish heritage, Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver), steps in, becoming the face of Stallworth, while Stallworth maintains the voice of a faux white supremacist.
This proves to be the perfect blend, and in no time Stallworth is seen holding up his KKK membership card, much to his own disbelief.
The camaraderie from the two characters is truly the heart of the movie. Zimmerman’s character has to bite his tongue when the supremacists throw their most hateful anti-Semitic slurs at him, and it is commendable how professional he remains, keeping focused on the mission and standing up for his partner.
Stallworth also proves he has his head in the game, when he embraces a spine-tingling assignment, to be the bodyguard of the ruthless head of the Grand Wizard of the KKK David Duke – a role executed perfectly by Topher Grace.
The plot of this film is tense throughout its duration, but unlike the trailer, which seems to be masked with primarily comedic scenes, Lee’s urgent message of truth surely engraves a powerful and timely message – racism in America 2018 is still as prevalent as it was four decades ago.
Just watch the final five minutes to experience the full explosion that will guarantee a jaw-dropping moment.
With the exception of non-stop foul language hurled throughout the film given the characters played, and the occasional draggy scenes in the second act, the film generates interest from start to finish.
The 70s-style cinematography is spot on, from the actors’ outfits, to their demeanour, the soul-train soundtracks, and even the cinematic effects.
The villains deliver cringe-worthy mannerisms and lines. And for the real likes of Ron Stallworth, well, he emerges as the ultimate hero with an unmissable cape, giving hope to the persecuted to keep championing on.
This movie is rated MA15+ as it contains strong language, racial epithets, disturbing/violent material, as well as some sexual and drug references.