By: Daylon Bonner, Staff Writer
Renowned director Spike Lee is back with his new film “Blackkklansman.” The film was based on a true story and takes place in the 1970s. It stars John David Washington and Adam Driver as Ron Stallworth and Flip Zimmerman respectively, who detail an investigation and infiltration into a chapter of the Ku Klux Klan which operated out of Colorado Springs. However, due to the color of Ron’s skin and his job as a cop, Flip Zimmerman must impersonate Ron for the investigation to be successful.
This is a good film and probably one of the best from Lee in a long time.
I did not expect this film to be as funny as it was. The banter between Washington and Driver is simply hilarious. The scenes in which Flip must impersonate Ron stand out the most. The set up that a Jewish man must play a black man impersonating a white man is funny on its own but is helped by an earnest portrayal by the actors.
Speaking of the actors, Washington killed it in this role. For those who may not know, he is the son of Denzel Washington. He more than holds his own in the film and makes the character his. His interactions over the phone with the Klan leader David Duke are worth the price of admission alone. The words are vulgar mind you, but the sarcastic delivery makes said lines endearing.
Driver holds his own as well. His facial expressions showcased in the film are something to be lauded. When he is among the police force he has a more expressive face and is more jovial. Conversely, among the Klan, his face is almost emotionless. Obviously, he is uncomfortable being among people he does not agree with and he does not want to be found out. I think it was a slick choice to go with a near emotionless face among the KKK given his circumstances.
There are two problems that may bother people in the film. While I do not know all the facts behind the real story, I can ascertain that some of the movie was embellished to make it better for the screen. This is a problem with most films based on real events, but I can see potential problems with the distortion of history given the subject matter.
The other criticism is that the run time is felt in this film. The scenes before the plot escalation are not bad but could have been shaved down in favor of adding to the main thrust of the story.
This next one is not necessarily a problem, but is something I noticed. I acknowledge this may be grasping at straws but I wanted to know a bit more about the character Flip. He is a cop who openly identifies himself as Jewish despite not growing up in an overtly Jewish household. This creates, within him, some internal conflict. I know he is not the main character of the film, I just thought something interesting may result from this conflict.
The same is true of the character Ron. He is a cop integrating the force and trying to infiltrate the KKK without being discovered. He is also a black cop who is trying to change the system without becoming the system. This could have been explored a bit more in depth. I guess he got some measures of catharsis towards the end of the film, but the victories did not feel that noteworthy.
Lee has crafted a solid film. There may be some executions problems, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. “Blackkklansman” gets an eight out of ten with a definite recommendation.