Colorblind: 'BlacKkKlansman' finds director Spike Lee back on top of his game

John David Washington stars as Ron Stallworth in Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman, a Focus Features release. (Photo: David Lee / Focus Features)

4 out of 5 Stars
: Spike Lee
Writer: Spike Lee, Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz, Kevin Willmott, Ron Stallworth (book)
Starring: John David Washington, Adam Driver, Laura Harrier
Genre: Biography, Comedy, Crime, Drama
Rated: R for language throughout, including racial epithets, and for disturbing/violent material and some sexual references

Synopsis: Ron Stallworth (John David Washington), an African-American, takes a job as a police officer in a rural Colorado town. Faced with racism from his fellow police, Stallworth looks to infiltrate the local Ku Klux Klan to root out prejudice and expose its membership.

Review: “BlaKkKlansman” starts off with a ridiculous idea, a black man joining the KKK, that makes for the perfect foundation of an absurdist comedy about racism, hypocrisy and corruption. It’s a story that is too on point to possibly be true.

Ron Stallworth is a real person and his story is utterly insane.

For the first half of the film, “BlacKkKlansman” is a funny film with a retro vibe that puts distance between the modern audience and the narrative. It throws the occasional punch to the body. By the time the film hits its midpoint, those body blows start to add up and the distance between viewer and film begins to decrease as the realities of the situation begin to sink in. The final act is a brutal attack on the senses that links the events of 1979 to the politically charged atmosphere of today’s America. By film’s end, there is no distance left for the audience to hide.

The cast, which includes familiar faces like Alec Baldwin and Adam Driver alongside newer faces like John David Washington and Laura Harrier, is fantastic. As is Terence Blanchard’s soundtrack and Chayse Irvin’s cinematography.

Like Spike Lee’s “Do the Right Thing,” “BlacKkKlansman” is politically charged story about race and will inevitably anger some and inspire others. It’s also one of Lee’s best films and certainly my favorite of his releases from the last decade.

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