Is it just me or is it bonkers that I’m nervous about reviewing a movie about the Ku Klux Klan in 2018 because people might think it’s too touchy of a subject? Like that’s nuts right? Freaking 2018 is way to weird for me…
For those unaware, the movie I’m speaking of is Spike Lee’s new movie/joint Blackklansman. It stars John David Washington as Ron Stallworth and Adam Driver as Flip Zimmerman, two detectives that go undercover to investigate, infiltrate, and inevitably foil a terrorist attack by the Ku Klux Klan in an utterly bizarre story that is somehow based on actual events that took place in the early 70’s. Yeah, it’s a wild ride, but well worth it if you ask me.
Now the most obvious thing about Blackklansman is its social commentary. This movie has a lot to say, particularly about race in America, and it’s totally unafraid to just go right for the throat with it’s messaging. This combined with some frankly blunt and overt comparisons between whats happening in the movie and whats happening in our current political climate. I know for a lot of people that can and will be a major turn off. Politics and identity politics, in particular, is a really toxic environment and one that is forced down our throats, so why would anyone subject themselves to a whole movie about it voluntarily? Hear me out though.
Despite the very heavy layer of commentary and messaging taking place, none of that comes close from slowing down the wildly entertaining ride that is Blackklansman. There are just some incredible moments of tension and drama just like what you would find in any other great film, and that doesn’t even take into account some absolutely gut-busting laughs placed and spaced nearly perfectly throughout the runtime. You could pretty much ignore all of the politics going on here and still come out having enjoyed this wonderful film as a stand-alone product.
Also, the performances from the two leads! OOOHHH they’re so good! John David Washington nails a wonderful portrayal of a man caught between two identities that seem to be contradictory and you just feel his struggle between that throughout the movie. Adam Driver is also in top form, but frankly, I haven’t seen anything from him in the past few years that wasn’t top form so I’m just going to start assuming that this is his default level of acting. If you’re a fan of either of these guys this is a great movie for you.
This being said, there are a couple of things you should really know before considering a ticket for this movie. The language is very explicit, not like in a way where they’re dropping F-bombs left and right, (although there are plenty to go around) but more in the sense that this movie doesn’t shy away from the nastiest kinds of hate speech and racial slurs. Like I don’t normally notice language too much in films and am bothered by it even less often, but there were a couple of moments where I was made deeply uncomfortable by what was being said. Personally, I really enjoyed that the movie challenged me in such a way, but for a lot of folks that’s something you’re not looking for at all.
Lastly, there is the ending. By the way, this I suppose has to be considered a spoiler so like you’ve been warned. I’ll put all the spoiler stuff in bold you can really tell what to skip.
SPOILER AHEAD SPOILER AHEAD SPOILER AHEAD
Remember when I said this movie takes its messaging and goes for the throat with it? Yeah, the ending is more like they take a bazooka and just obliterate you with it. So if you were sympathetic to the alt-right protests in Charlottesville from a year ago, the ending of this movie is going to really tilt you, actually, the whole thing will probably tilt you, but especially the ending.
So while there are certainly some things I know that people would find objectionable about this movie I do think that as a whole it’s very much worth seeing, the message is one that is somehow still very needed in 2018, and it’s delivered in an impeccably well-contructed manner as well. Blackklansman is a top shelf kind of movie everybody. Later Y’all.