Directed by Spike Lee
Based on the book Black Klansman by Ron Stallworth
Screenplay by Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz, Kevin Willmott, Spike Lee
Starring: John David Washington, Adam Driver, Laura Harrier, Topher Grace, Ryan Eggold, Jasper Pääkkönen
Ron Stallworth (Washington) is an African-American police officer in Colorado Springs, and he’s looking to make a name for himself. He creates his opportunity when he infiltrates the Ku Klux Klan with the help of Flip Zimmerman (Driver). Their operation soon lands them in the Klan’s inner circle.
This Spike Lee Joint is one of two 2018 releases for the legendary director. (The other film is Pass Over.) This one is based on the book Black Klansman by Ron Stallworth. The script was written by Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz, Kevin Willmott (Chi-Raq), and Spike Lee. The cast of this film features a long list of incredible talent. John David Washington (Monsters and Men) stars alongside Adam Driver (Logan Lucky), Laura Harrier (Spider-Man: Homecoming), Topher Grace (Interstellar), Ryan Eggold (Lovesong), and Jasper Pääkkönen (Heart of a Lion).
This is a fascinating story that works on an (almost) unbelievable premise. The script almost seamlessly blends elements of comedy, drama, and crime throughout the movie. This is a story that might seem like a buddy cop film on the surface, but it has a much more serious undercurrent. The dialogue is wonderfully written, and feels perfect for the world of the film. Like the plot, the dialogue is deeper than it might seem on the surface. The characters often call out one another on the hypocrisy and misunderstandings between them. Some of this is done with a comedic tone, but it’s very effective. The characters created for this movie are a collection of unique personalities. The central figures are all nicely developed, but there are a couple of minor roles that seem out of place. The ugliness of racism is put on display throughout the movie, creating some necessary, but uncomfortable, moments. This movie makes a powerful statement while maintaining a solid narrative.
This movie features a collection of committed performances from the talented cast. John David Washington leads this one with a solid performance that capitalizes on the great script. He does a great job keeping his delivery in line with the tone of the movie. He also has excellent chemistry with the rest of the cast. Adam Driver also delivers a great performance in this one. His work, like Washington’s, fits right in line with the tone of the story. He also pushes the intensity of his role at all the right times. Their chemistry also adds something special to the movie.
In some ways, Topher Grace had one of the more challenging roles. His performance as David Duke adds a sense of authentic racism to the movie. He creates a character who is both charismatic and committed to his beliefs. Laura Harrier also adds a nice performance to this one. She has a good connection with Washington, and delivers on the conviction her character needs.
Ryan Eggold and Jasper Pääkkönen add great work of their own to this one. This movie features a cast that mostly hits the mark. There are a couple of performances that don’t really fit in to the world of the film. These performances don’t make up much of the movie, so it’s not a major issue. Despite the small issues, the majority of the cast does good work. The script asked for the actors to delve into some very harsh ideals and gritty moments, and they rose to the occasion to bring this one to life.
The production value of this movie is excellent. The sets, locations, costuming, makeup and hair all do the right things to build a version of the world that fits in with the tone of the story. The cinematography is also on point, giving the movie a visual tension that it needs. Frequent Spike Lee collaborator Terence Blanchard (25th Hour) also added a some great music to the film.
This is a very good movie. The politics within the film are used in a way that makes a clear connection to similar issues going on in the United States today. The one does have an agenda, but it never undermines the quality of the film. Fans of Spike Lee should make sure to see this one. I would also suggest it to fans of the stars. This film looks racism in the face, and there are some very rough moments throughout. I give this one 4.4 out of 5 stars.