My very first review kicking off my best picture nominated series is HERE and starting with Blackkklansman!
So let’s get started. The movie is Spike Lee’s newest film following the story of Ron Stallworth, the FIRST African American detective to serve in the Colorado Springs Police Department.
The story of this film is something incredible. It is captivating from start to finish and it is increased by the great performances of John David Washington (Ron Stallworth) and Adam Driver (Flip Zimmerman, but also Ron Stallworth - sorta).
The movie was very brave to take on such a story with VERY heavy subject material. It is no secret that this follows a controversial topic. Despite taking place in the early 1970s, the topic is still very relevant today. The film definitely deserves some praise for taking on this true story, but I do not believe that courage of the filmmakers is any basis to judge the quality of the film. So let’s move into my judgement on said quality.
As I mentioned, the performances are GREAT and they help to get a real understanding of the characters and the times. I do not believe that the movie would be of the same quality without John David Washington in the lead. His external conflicts helped to push the plot forward but his internal conflicts were what made me truly care about him. He was very easy to root for and felt like a very good protagonist.
Another aspect that I would like to praise is that the tension in the movie was present in every scene. It clearly displayed the conflict of the times, adding a somber but effective feeling between many of the characters.
My final praise is that the movie managed to create a very dark image, while maintaining enough humor to keep the audience from leaving the theater in pure despair. It was a solid balance that they needed in order to maintain the pace and tone of the film.
My only big criticism of the movie is that I wanted more time with the character of Ron Stallworth. John David Washington have a very good performance, leaving me wanting more of his character. I think his intentions were very clear, but I wanted a big more of the reasoning behind him. Obviously racism of the times was a big motivator but I think some of his past would have made him more interesting. We got bits and pieces of his past through various dialogue, but a large amount of the back story that was applied to ‘Ron Stallworth’ was manufactured for the figure that was created to infiltrate the ‘organization’. While it is a small complaint, it is definitely something that I think would have improved my experience with the movie.
This last bit is a slight spoiler for the pre-credits clip (I guess that is a fairly legit term for it). So spoiler warning for the rest of this paragraph! The movie transitioned to clips from 2016 and 2017 riots in the US. I feel that the inclusion of these clips made the impact of the movie even bigger. Regardless of political affiliation, I think that this was a smart choice by the director. It left the audience forced to see that the story of the film is still relevant, making viewers think deeper about the overall meaning. I am generally of the opinion that politics take away from the fun of movies because I watch films for an escape from reality, not a reminder. BUT, acknowledging the relevance with the film, I think it was a fine choice to include the clips.
So to sum it up, I really enjoyed this movie! I think it was captivating from start to finish, sharing the true story of a man that changed American history. Despite its missed opportunity, I think it was simply great. If you have not seen this movie, I definitely suggest giving it a watch, and I look forward to seeing if it can pick up some trophies at the Oscars.
Overall, I give Blackkklansman a 7.9/10