BlacKkKlansman

Tackling racial tensions and social issues within the black community that are still relevant to our modern day is commonly found in filmmaker Spike Lee's repertoire. He's one of the go-to directors for focusing on such a field and has found success with his work. To be honest, I have only seen one of his well-known features that best exemplifies this, Do The Right Thing, which holds up pretty well. From what I understand though, sometimes his efforts in delivering those themes can sometimes be hit or miss in the execution. In our current time, this kind of work is still needed to remind us of such hardships, which brings us to the biographical drama movie, BlacKkKlansman, directed by Spike Lee. The marketing campaign appeared intriguing to me with the premise of the true story that connected to our modern day events. It premiered at the Cannes film festival in May, publicly released into theaters a few weeks ago to a positive critical reception, and has been on my anticipated radar for a while. I entered the auditorium ready to see if it's worth the big screen experience and left it fairly satisfied with it.

Plot: The story follows the true events of the first African American detective in the Colorado Springs police department as it explores his endeavors to infiltrate and expose a local chapter of the Klu Klux Klan. There are four mini-arcs involved here: getting access into the KKK, showcasing the black student union group, a romantic arc between the detective and president of said group, and the behavior of police officers within the department. It has good intentions of reminding its audience of timely themes that are very relevant as it moves forward. There are scenes within most of these plot lines that are handled pretty well in terms of quality script work. The content of such material it's dealing with doesn't go dark and rough like Detroit (2017) but rather goes in a lighthearted tone of sorts. It should be noted that at the end there's footage shown of the Charlottesville incident from last year (this dramatic flick was released on the one year anniversary of that riot).

However, the biggest hurdle holding this bold feature down in terms of quality is taking on too many subplots, resulting in the narrative structure being jumbled. Some of these arcs are definitely better than others and the motions of going back-forth between them can get straining after a while. The ending (excluding the previously mentioned footage) played things a little too cheerful in its execution. While its message is definitely well-intended, there are a few moments where it gets too hammered in on the head. Sometimes that lighthearted tone can be problematic with plot lines and characters, notably the ending (excluding the footage part) where it felt too easy in how it was told. It's attempts at humor can even feel sorta hit-or-miss quite often throughout.

Characters: The people to focus on are Ron Stallworth (John David Washington), Detective Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver), and Patrice Dumas (Laura Harrier). Ron is the first African American detective in the Colorado Springs dept. whose attempts to rise in his career leads him to get inside the local chapter of the KKK in order to expose them. John is one of the best lead performances here to check out as he does a great job conveying a drive to prove himself, adapting to new situations his character encounters, and attempting to help his black community via his detective work. Flip is Ron's Jewish coworker who assists him in the plan to sneak into the KKK. Adam is pretty solid here as his portrayal relies on his chemistry with John and the awkwardness as he fulfills his part of the plan (one of my favorite scenes being where both characters are trying to get their stories and impressions straightened out for the infiltration).

Patrice is the president of the black student union at Colorado college who catches Ron's eye when he attends a rally undercover. Laura gives a surprising performance as her chemistry with David helps in their scenes together as their conversations about fighting for the black community adds something unique to the romance. Honestly her acting here proves she's pretty talented and can shine well when given both good direction and a solid script, which Spider-Man Homecoming failed to do for her. Honorable mention goes to Felix Kendrickson (Jasper Packkonen) for bringing a welcome intimidation factor for many of his scenes. Dishonorable mentions goes to Dr. Kennebrew Beaureguard (Alec Baldwin) and David Dukes (Topher Grace) as the former appeared completely out of place in terms of his performance compared to everyone else while the latter didn't exactly stand out among the actors present due to how dull he was (mostly on being treated as a comedic tool) as the grand wizard of the KKK local chapter.

Overall Consensus: The good intentions of BlacKkKlansman relies on its leading actors great performances, relevant themes its focused on, and some solid story arcs, but suffers due to an overcrowded narrative structure. ⭑⭑⭑1/2🎟 Runtime: 2 hours 14 minutes R

Reasons to watch it: You like any of the aforementioned actors. You are a fan Spike Lee's style of filmmaking. You enjoy biographical dramas regarding racial tensions being portrayed in a somewhat light hearted manner. You don't mind the Charlottesville incident footage being included at the end. You don't mind some of the timely messages being too on the nose in the dialog.

Reasons to avoid it: You dislike any of the aforementioned actors. You aren't a fan Spike Lee's style of filmmaking. You are annoyed by biographical dramas regarding racial tensions being portrayed in a somewhat light hearted manner. You don't want to see the Charlottesville incident footage being included at the end. You mind some of the timely messages being too on the nose in the dialog.

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