Movie Review: BlacKkKlansman

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The countdown for the Academy Awards continues this week. Next up for review, on the Best Picture nominated list, is the biopic BlacKkKlansman. I have the delightful challenge of watching the final four films before Sunday’s award show broadcast. As a movie buff, it is a challenge I am enjoying.

Bear with me as the blog becomes a movie review blog for the next few days. I hope you will enjoy my insights on these extraordinary films.

Movie Review BlacKkKlansman

BlacKkKlansman Cast

BlacKkKlansman stars John David Washington, Adam Driver, Laura Harrier, Topher Grace, Robert John Burke, Corey Hawkins, Jasper Paakkonen, Ryan Eggold and Harry Belafonte. Directed and co-written by Spike Lee, the crime drama is based upon the book Black Klansman, written by Ron Stallworth. The film carries an R rating, for language, moderate violence and scenes of injustice. It has a run time of 2 hours and 15 minutes.

BlacKkKlansman is nominated for six Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor for Driver, Original Score, Best Editing and Best Adapted Screenplay.

Movie Review BlacKkKlansman

First Black Police Officer in Colorado Springs

In the 1970s Ron Stallworth (Washington) becomes the first African American police officer, with the Colorado Springs, Colorado police department. Chafing at his entry level position, in the filing room, Stallworth convinces Chief Bridges (Burke) that he’s ready for more action.

The police chief sends Ron out on his first assignment as an undercover cop at a local Black Panther rally. Wired, and instructed to get a feel for what the group intends to do, Ron sits in on the meeting. Detective Flip Zimmerman (Driver) listens in from an unmarked car. A known activist, Kwame Ture (Hawkins), is scheduled to speak. At the rally, Ron meets Patrice (Harrier), president of the Black Student Union at the college. Ron listens, intrigued by Ture’s passionate words, and impressed with Patrice’s devotion.

Later Ron and Patrice meet for a drink. Off duty, but keeping his cover, Ron doesn’t tell Patrice that he is a cop, even when she recounts a disturbing experience from earlier in the evening. Driving Ture back to his hotel room, the car is pulled over and the occupants are harassed by a couple of officers.

After hearing Ron’s report, Chief Bridges declines to look further into the Black Panthers. The newly promoted officer is sent to the intelligence office, to answer phones and record leads. Not one to sit and do nothing, Ron makes a phone call that launches a risky undercover investigation.

Movie Review BlacKkKlansman

Infiltrating the KKK

After seeing a recruitment ad in the local paper, Ron calls the Colorado Springs chapter of the KKK. Speaking to Klan chapter president, Walter Breachway (Eggold), Ron poses as a white man, interested in joining the organization. Impressed by Ron’s Aryan rhetoric, the two arrange a meeting.

Ron realizes he can’t attend the meeting. However, Detective Flip Zimmerman can! Because Ron erred, using his own name, Flip becomes Ron Stallworth. He meets with Breachway and another Klan member, Felix (Paakkonen). Felix is immediately suspicious of Flip. He suspects the new recruit is Jewish and pelts Flip with questions.

Ultimately, Flip is accepted into the Klu Klux Klan. Flip and Ron coordinate an in depth investigation. Ron handles all phone calls, including frequent info gathering chats with the Grand Wizard of the Klan, David Duke (Grace). Flip attends all local Klan meetings, always wired, while Ron stalks the group from a distance, taking photos and listening in.

Meanwhile, Ron continues to see Patrice. She is disturbed by the number of Klan flyers being distributed in the neighborhoods.

Movie Review BlacKkKlansman

Induction into the Klan

Flip receives his KKK membership card. For his induction, the Grand Wizard himself is traveling to Colorado, to attend. Duke is impressed with the young man, due to the lengthy phone calls they’ve had. In a wry turn of events, Ron receives the security detail for Duke.

Tension mounts in the community. Duke arrives to lead the induction of new members. Patrice gathers students to hear guest speaker Jerome Turner (Belafonte) speak of sad injustices from his youth. Ron warns Patrice that there are rumors of a planned KKK attack. He begs her to cancel a student march, revealing at last that he is a cop. Infuriated, she sends Ron away.

And a couple of Klan members intend great harm, secreting away a bomb while they wait for an opportunity. Will Flip’s cover be blown before the investigation is completed? And can Ron and Flip prevent the violence that is threatened?

Movie Review B;acKkKlansman

My Thoughts on BlacKkKlansman

This intriguing film pulled a range of emotions from me. Abundant humor sprinkled throughout the movie lightens a very heavy subject, without taking away from the seriousness of justice and equal rights for everyone. I loved the camaraderie between Ron and Flip. Both become acutely aware of racial injustice and work together to make changes. And both men uphold honor and the desire to protect, as police officers.

I’m always drawn to films based on true stories. The events portrayed in the movie actually happened. However, the true name of Ron’s undercover partner has never been revealed. Flip existed…in Ron’s book he’s referred to as Chuck…but nothing is known about who he is and where he is now.

Watching the movie, I also felt sorrow, shame, anger and finally hope. Several times I felt the sting of tears in my eyes. Racism is still very real, and it’s extremely difficult for me to understand how someone can hate another because of race or ethnicity. Some scenes were hard for me to watch in BlacKkKlansman. Injustice riles me and breaks my heart. The most moving sequence occurred as Jerome, played by Henry Belafonte, recounted horrific events from his childhood, while across town, the Klan watched an old black and white film depicting the very events he spoke about. I watched with tears in my eyes and a catch in my throat.

Spike Lee unapologetically offers a powerful, thought provoking film. I’m still thinking about it and feeling the weight of it…and longing for acceptance, equality and freedom for all.

Movie Review BlacKkKlansman

Best Picture List with Reviews

Check out all of the Best Picture Nominated Films. Links are provided to the reviews I’ve written so far.

Watch BlacKkKlansman HERE on Amazon Prime, or purchase on Blu-Ray or DVD.

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63 Replies to “Movie Review: BlacKkKlansman”

  1. I have not seen this movie. And I love when the movie brings up all types of emotions. I will surely check it out. Thank you for sharing your opinion on this!

  2. Films like this are so important. What is hard is people think it’s just history… Unfortunately, this stuff is still happening.

    I haven’t seen this one yet, and this makes want to watch it.

    1. Yes. We’ve made some progress since the 70s and yet racial injustice is still going on. These films are important, to illuminate what needs to be seen.

  3. I’m also drawn to movies and books based on true events. I’m easily upset – and am sure this movie would make me cry a LOT – but I do try my hardest to educate myself about the world and its often dark history. Part of me still can’t believe the KKK actually existed even though I KNOW they did, just because it seems so unbelievable. I will definitely have to keep this movie in mind and try to watch it, if given the chance.

    1. It’s very hard to understand how such an organization can exist. This film shines the bright light of truth on some darker aspects of humanity. But it offers hope as well.

  4. I don’t get out much anymore to the movies, so reading your reviews have been great. I enjoy true stories and I was able to get a real sense of what this film was about. I, like you, can’t understand the hate that is manifested over race. The fact that this film was nominated shows how far we’ve come and I hope it wins so that more attention is given to the subject that we’re all human beings (and from my point of view) children of God who deserve love and respect.

  5. This looks like a good movie. Being raised to adulthood in Israel with such a variety of cultures, I never thought about prejudice. I didn’t know it existed until when I was 18 I was refused service in Idaho when I went to buy cigarettes because I showed my Israeli passport. It goes both ways though. New Mexico was really hard for us. Nothing excuses racism and prejudice.

    1. It’s an excellent film! And I’m so sorry for your experience. There’s absolutely no excuse for racism or prejudice. None. We are all unique and precious people in my opinion, with a vast array of gifts to offer to each other. I appreciate films like BlacKkKlansman because they shine a light on the past, showing how we’ve failed each other, and also illuminate the present. They show me how I can help create a better future.

  6. I haven’t seen this one yet, but do have it on my short list. It seems riveting and I want to be able to devote my attention to the whole film. Thanks for the breakdown. Definitely sparked more of an interest to see it.

  7. I’m with you, I love watching movies that are based on true stories! I have never heard of this movie, but I definitely want to watch this one! I am from Europe, but my husband is African American, so I try to watch as many “based-on-a-true-story-movies”/documentaries as I can to learn more about the racial tension and injustice that existed and still exist in America.

    1. It’s a very eye opening film, with bits of humor added. It shows me we’ve processed some…and still have a ways to go for true equality for everyone.

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