BlacKkKlansman ★★★½

"All power to ALL the people."

This is the mantra repeated various times throughout Spike Lee's latest joint. BlacKkKlansman is not a film of whites versus blacks, it's a topical film for the sociopolitical climate that had existed within the United States for centuries. It's a film centralised around racism, but not purely between what is marketed, it's not only aimed at making the extreme right fascists and neo-nazis the only villains of the tape. It certainly does not leave the black community blameless, and it most certainly puts in the most of the heavy hitters with skin in the game, at one point or another at the forefront. I loved the parallels shown between groups that claim to oppose one another, and how in-fighting and civil disputes over how "change" can be attained can segregate individuals within the same groups and beliefs. In example, Ron Stallworth's (John David Washington) mature yet subdued crusade for his community leading him to infiltrate the KKK and subvert the corrupt and racists individuals within the police precinct to justice and face the law. While opposite to him, is the extreme left President of the Colorado City College Black Rights activism group and Ron's girlfriend, Patrice (Laura Harrier). Two proud powerful figures trying to bring change and equality for their community, but via two drastically different mentalities and upbringings. Then we get a whole slew of characters, from the I'm denial or hidden Jew, Flip Zimmerman (my leaner twin, Adam Driver) who refuses to accept that he has any place in the growing race war, even when faced with anti-semitism during his undercover stint with the KKK. The racial players fit almost every card, and they are all excellently played by their actor/actresses. I must give a particular Shout-out to the brilliant insane hyper racist performance that Vikings alum Jasper Pääkkönen (Felix) gave. The entire cast was superb, even Eric Foreman as David Duke, the Grand wizard of the KKK. There's plenty of social media, historical allusions, and popular culture thrown into this joint, and it makes for a sadly hilarious topical film, yet one that holds its punches. I was expecting this film to be outrageous and far out there with the swings and jabs Spike Lee typically throws or debates. I'm hoping that Boots Riley satisfies that need whenever I get a chance to see, Sorry to Bother You. But BlacKkKlansman, while great, did not fill that nerve for me, and it may have had the finger on the pulse, it did little to squeeze it.

The plot was established incredibly quick, with little room for stretching. You get right into the investigation, and things seem to just work for the benefit of the plot and script, which irked me a little. I was hoping for more conflict and tension, but instead almost everything went as predicted and planned. Quite a handful of plot threads and subplots are introduced within the first 20 minutes, yet by the second act of the film, 75% of them vanish. I would have loved it if Lee explored the negative sides of the Black Panthers, more. For all the parallels and morals being surfaced, very few were delved into and truly debated, in favor for the plot to move unhindered. Such as a Black Panther leader who openly tells Stallworth that he should get himself a firearm and prepare for war against the racist pigs. Or later when Stallworth is defending his J. O. B. and his brothers in blue for not all being racist "pigs". The racism, hatred, and stereotypes fly both ways, and it is unfortunate yet true that a few bad eggs give a bad rapsheet for the entire group, regardless of what side you're on. Not all minorities are criminals and not all cops are racist power hungry fascists. Its a shame that Lee did not dig deeper into those brief moments throughout. Similar to how Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri left a sort of bland little exploration/challenged taste in my mouth by the end. Big whoop, nothing new here type deal, but still incredibly well performed and shot films. The element of exploring the community and heavy hitters was not as prevalent as in the likes of Do The Right Thing, so the sense of exploration and investigation fell flat, to fit in line with the forward pace. There were little to no hiccups, which made me feel a little bored at rare times, awaiting for the next pulse to pickup. For the most part the snappy editing kept the film feeling energetic, with little Lee elements such as Blaxploitation film posters and snippets, conveyor belt zooms, and politically charged speeches. It's certainly his best film since Inside Man, so I do agree with the assessment word on the street that this is a return to form for him. And it's perfectly fitting for how prevalent this racially charged issues STILL are, and how little has changed since the Black Rights Movement... Unfortunately.

To my surprise, BlacKkKlansman is not on the same level as Do the Right Thing, was. While I was still very entertained by the performances and witty (sometimes not subtle) script, I felt that the film did go a bit too long and ended on a bland yet honest note. It is certainly a film for the times, and with its very on the nose Alec Baldwin (Trump-esque) opening monologue, fitting use of Gone With the Wind and Birth of a Nation, and live footage of various rallies, there is undoubtedly the Spike Lee presence. I just kept waiting for him to push behind the curtains, rather than just depict what you probably montage breeze through prior to entering the film. But alas, it was sufficient in its message and  was visually evoking, which were both further amplified by great nuanced performances across the board. If only the entire film could have bee. As bold as its final moments.

I'd wholeheartedly recommend giving this joint a puff, because regardless of what side you fall on, there's something for you; if you don't fall to any particular side of the endless battle, the films themes and morals may pop a few a questions in your mind as to why you aren't involved. That said, not much inclusion with Asians and Latinos, but there are stark dynamics at work between the Blacks, Jews, and Whites.

~ ★★★½ / 5 ~


~ Genuinely,
Quickee Film Time

PS - Yes, that's Denzel and Paulletta Washington's son. And he undoubtedly sounds just like his father.

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