The 2018 film “BlacKkKlansman” tells the story of Colorado Springs police officer Ron Stallworth (John David Washington) and his infiltration of the KKK. Set in the 1970s, the film also comments on the rise of the Black Power movement and the efforts to quell the activists. While the subjects discussed are quite heavy, this film is a comedy, delivering several hilarious moments throughout.
The first reason why this film is fantastic is because of the person leading you through the story — director Spike Lee. Lee is a legendary figure of the silver screen, making movies such as 1989’s “Do the Right Thing,” 1992’s “Malcolm X” and the recent “Da 5 Bloods” that was snubbed by the Academy in this year’s Oscar nominations. “BlacKkKlansman” is one of Lee’s best films. The strength of this film begins with its well-written plot. Lee and his three fellow co-writers pen a screenplay that seamlessly tells a story set in the 1970s while also tackling relevant themes and messages for the 21st century. Sometimes when period pieces tackle modern issues, it feels forced and unnatural, but that is not the case with this movie. Lee’s direction and writing combine social commentary and story so seamlessly you barely even notice it’s happening, showing his mastery as a writer and director. The cinematography is also incredible, delivering several thematic shots that add to the messaging of the film.
Another reason why this film is fantastic is due to its strong performances. This is Washington’s first time in a leading role of a wide-release film, but you can’t even notice. He has a palpable on-screen charisma that elevates the brilliant material of the film to another level. Adam Driver, who portrays a colleague of Washington’s character, is also fantastic, executing a difficult role quite well.
The film’s editing is notable as well. There are several montage sequences throughout the film that are thematically poignant and extremely emotionally effective. Additionally, one of the most impressive feats of editing is in the third act, where they cut back and forth between two simultaneous events and deliver a thematic message through their parallels. These focused editing sequences, backed by Terrence Blanchard’s incredible musical score, do a fantastic job delivering the emotional and thematic moments of the picture. The film also does a great job at balancing its tone. Its mix of comedy and drama is extremely well executed, never having scenes with out of place comedy or dramatic moments.
In conclusion, this is one of director Lee’s greatest films and one of the best films of the 2010s, delivering a fantastic story with incredible performances, well executed direction and cinematography. For those reasons, this most definitely can be considered a fantastic film.
Where to Find “BlacKkKlansman”: Streaming on Hulu