Don Reviews "BlacKkKlansman"
Going undercover is always very dangerous and takes a great level of bravery. I have seen this a little bit in my past doing fraud investigations and being a part of stakeouts (which are incredibly boring in real life and NOTHING like they are on television and in the movies). I may not have ever gone full undercover myself, but I have met a number of people in my career that have, and my hat goes off to all of those who have. Ron Stallworth’s autobiographical tale of one such operation is at the center of director Spike Lee’s new film, “BlacKkKlansman”.
Starring John David Washington (Ballers), Adam Driver (Girls), Topher Grace (That ‘70s Show), Ryan Eggold (Lovesong), Jasper Paakkonen (Vikings), and Paul Walter Hauser (I, Tonya), Stallworth (Washington) is an African-American cop in Colorado Springs in the late ‘70s. When he is promoted to work undercover to investigate a rebellious group of college students seeing activist Stokely Carmichael (now Kwame Ture and played by Corey Hawkins of “24: Legacy”). This leads to him on a slower day to answer an ad in the newspaper to join the local chapter of the Ku Klux Klan. Convincing the chapter president, Walter (Eggold), that he is their dream member over the phone, he gets his partner, Flip Zimmerman (Driver) to impersonate him for the in-person meetings while still being the voice on the phone, even getting national attention by “the organization”. The danger mounts as he is caught up between his job, the Klan, and his developing romance with one of the activists in Patrice Dumas (Laura Harrier).
The historical accuracy is very good here, taking every detail into account to keep from losing the audience while the story is told. Washington does an excellent job as Stallworth, who is trying to break a number of barriers at one time, and Paakkonen is a great bad guy to him as the Klansman who trusts no one and wants to get rid of anyone who is not like him. Hauser plays the same type of character he plays in “I, Tonya” and does just as well here, and Ashlie Atkinson is also really impressive as Paakkonen’s character’s wife, a sweet Southern lady whose beliefs fall right in line with her husband’s.
The script kept me interested and tells a very unique story, and even at almost two hours and fifteen minutes long, I stayed interested even though it was a bit longer than I thought it should have been. There is also a good balance of comedy and intense drama to keep the very complicated storyline moving; however, there is a political statement in the last few minutes of the film that did not do anything but give a message that was from the director himself. Even through that, I will still recommend “BlacKkKlansman” as a matinee showing at the theater.