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Director Spike Lee’s best movie (by a wide mile) in 12 very long years, since his exquisite heist film Inside Man (2006), is imperfect, but plenty entertaining, most especially the first half.
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John - David - Washington - Ron - Stallworth
John David Washington plays Ron Stallworth, the first black officer hired by a department in Colorado. It is sometime in the early 1970s, and our story is based in part on a true one — that actually took place about a decade later. But this is a good call on Lee’s part. After all, the early 70s were much more stylish than the late 70s.
After proving himself as a uniformed officer, Stallworth requests undercover work and ends up (over the phone) earning an opportunity to join the local chapter of the Ku Klux Klan, just as they are planning a domestic terrorist attack. While Stallworth works the phone with the Klan, including long conversations with Grand Wizard David Duke (Topher Grace), his partner, Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver), poses as Ron Stallworth in person for the meetings and initiations.
Love - Student - Activist - Ron - Stallworth
Meanwhile, after he falls in love with a student activist, the real Ron Stallworth finds himself trapped between the black power movement and the white power movement.
Believe it or not, BlacKkKlansman is nowhere near as radical as you might expect. In fact, the first half is a charmer as the story sets up the characters, their relationships, and the overall plot. The second half only loses a little steam, but is nowhere near as suspenseful as it could have been.
Lee - Swinging - Hero - Cop - Man
Those looking for Lee to come out swinging, though, will be disappointed. His hero is a cop, a man who might see black radicalism as less threatening than white power, but just as misguided.
Lee’s only misstep comes at the very, very end when he...
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