Powerful, funny and disturbing, Spike Lee's best film in years sticks with you well after its thought provoking final scenes.
BLACKkKLANSMAN tells the true story of Colorado Spring's first African American police officer in the seventies, Ron Stallworth.
In his first major role, John David Washington is perfect as Ron. He's strong, funny as hell and incredibly likable. What he puts up with blazing a trail in the Colorado police force is astonishing.
When Stallworth cleverly infiltrates the dangerous local installment of the KKK by phone, he partners up with fellow detective Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver, terrific) to be the in-person half of Ron, since the real Ron cant attend the KKK meetings for obvious reasons.
What unspools from there is a smart, sometimes hilarious, often uncomfortable tale of breaking barriers, blatant racism, good cops and bad cops, the in-your-face stupidity of the Klan, wrapped in a very good crime thriller.
Director Spike Lee is at his very best. Lee seduces you with the carefree humor of the story before stopping you in your tracks with the backward reality of everyday racism.
Lee elevates the film by taking you behind the surface of many of the characters. A long club sequence in which Stallworth meets a college activist for a drink that evolves into a long dance and a romance that will impact the entire film is flawless.
Credit Lee with perfect casting and bringing great performances out of all his actors.
Corey Hawkins (24, Straight Outta Compton) is better than he's ever been on screen as Kwame Ture, a speaker who ignites the story with his appearance at a local college.
Ryan Eggold (The Blacklist) is strong as leader of the local KKK and Paul Walter Hauser follows up his hilarious performance as the worlds dumbest crook in "I, Tonya" with his dumb as a box of rocks klan member Ivanoe. Topher Grace is strong as real life KKK leader and current politician David Duke.
Lee builds real suspense in the final act as an undercover operation tilts toward disaster, a violent plan is put in play by the KKK and all our characters are propelled toward a confrontation.
But Lee saves his most disturbing moments for the final 5 minutes, which move away from the film you just watched and into a montage of scenes showing news clips from events surrounding racial hatred, many of them in the past few years.
By mirroring the opening moments of the film, which feature news footage of racial battles in the early sixties, Lee holds up just how little we've changed in the last 50 years.
For me, the best films are those that make you think, that challenge what you think you know or inspire you to feel differently.
WIthout being preachy, Lee holds truth up in front of you and challenges you to feel & to think.
Our lack of progress fifty years after Selma and Martin Luther KIng is disturbing.
BLACKkKLANSMAN will stick with me for a very long time. It's Lee's best work in 25 years and gets an A+. It's in the top half of my all-time Top 100 films.