Tuomas’s review published on Letterboxd:
Despite being a Spike Lee joint and a black movie, I do believe this is strongly aimed at white people with their heads in the sand, but the question is: will they actually see it? Adam Driver's Flip Zimmerman exists as the audience avatar for white people. He's a jew, but he has never practiced, he has never thought about his ethnic identity because he has never had to, that is until he is forced to go undercover as the face of Ron Stallworth, while John David Washington is the voice of Ron Stallworth through the phone. Flip experiences first hand how deep antisemitism runs and how alive and well it is. This is a clear message to the white audience: "you don't relate to the black man's struggle? Well here's a guy who looks like you and experiences the same shit, how about now?", I absolutely adored this aspect of the movie, I'm just afraid it will fall on deaf ears to them who'd really need to hear it.
Now not to make this seem like the movie is made through a white lens or anything since the story is very much that of the actual Ron Stallworth. John David Washington delivers a great first leading performance as the titular character. Many draw parallels to his father, but I personally didn't see it asides from the physical resemblance and to an extent his voice. John was significantly less bombastic and a lot more insecure and confused with the character. Stallworth is a man in his 20's who has conflicting ideologies: he wants to advance the social liberation of his fellow black people, but he also always wanted to become a cop, which is something that the former group viewed as their enemy. This become state of perpetual conflict as he ensues to engage in relationship with a student activist and is forced to hide his occupation from her.
What I loved the most about the movie is while being as subtle as a slap to the face, it still manages to be balanced. The Klan members are portrayed as regular people who are personable and blend in like anyone else. One of the big things the movie sought to deliver is that white supremacy transitioned into the mainstream and strayed away from on the nose, which then allowed the ideologies to seep their ugly heads into the very core of the country. Many other stories would take an extra step to vilify these people and to make sure that us the viewers know exactly that these are the bad guys. Lee doesn't bother with that, cause really there should be no extra need to exemplify how these people are the villains, Lee portrays them as exactly as they are cause that's enough. Now what Lee specifically sought out to achieve is delivering how ridiculous white supremacy is and it more than delivered on it. Most of the uncomfortably hilarious moments come from characters spewing their absurdly racist opinions and thoughts and I personally got an extra kick out of the movie having to witness my native brother, the only Finnish actor in a notable Hollywood movie, deliver a sleuth of white supremacy bullshit.
I had a few problems with the movie, but the cultural importance of the movie is highly countering the negatives. The movie is a mix of drama and comedy and I felt like the tonal balancing act didn't work as well as it could have and a side plot's conclusion felt like it was lifted of a family movie. Asides from that, I absolutely loved the movie and I wasn't even bothered by the lack of subtlety by Lee considering the story was wildly relevant even without Lee's extra effort of relating it to current day events with that sendoff at the end.