Spike Lee is back with the characteristically audacious and opinionated BlacKkKlansman, and according to our Senior Features Ed, Tom, this is nothing but good.
Tom awarded the latest Spike Lee joint a stonking five out of five, calling it both “a raucous farce reaching Coen-esque levels of complexity and brilliance” and a “heartbreaking” critique of contemporary race relations. In short, Lee’s “best film in years“.
But you know we don’t like to give the full five stars lightly. Are the rest of the team behind Tom?
Carmen – 5/5
BlacKkKlansman is one of this year’s essentials. Brutal, timely, honest, and hilarious, the incredibly true story takes a sledgehammer to white American culture and assumptions of normalcy. As shown through archival footage from various decades, the issues dealt with by Ron Stallworth and company are not ‘history’. Therefore, subtlety is neither a claim nor a necessity. Amidst a fast-moving plot and heavy politics, Spike Lee ensures that his characters are front and centre. John David Washington and Adam Driver deliver human, nuanced performances, dancing between public and private personas while keeping motives coherent, fears voiced, and viewers firmly on their side.
Jack – 4/5
As tonally scattershot and genre-mashing as anything Spike Lee has done, BlacKkKlansman is also his most audience and awards friendly film in over a decade. It’s fun, furious, and tense, sticking to a lot of the traditions of ‘70s cop movies whilst also carving out its own niche. The satire is never subtle, and nor should it be with a target like the KKK and the continued preservation of white supremacy in America, and Lee makes sure to evoke the modern alt-right in the language of the Klan. It’s a powerful and important film that also never forgets to entertain.
Steph – 4/5
Spike Lee is back with BlacKkKlansman, a hard hitting film that should be viewed by all, especially in the current political climate. He uses the true figure of Ron Stallworth to make a statement on how black people in America have been treated throughout history – and how little has changed. The film is humorous, fast paced and great fun to watch for the story alone, as Stallworth tries to keep his cover as he infiltrates the KKK. But it also makes sure to hammer the point home that institutional racism still exists and needs to change, and fast.
David – 4/5
We’ll not see a film of greater fascination this year than BlacKkKlansman. Spike Lee’s return to form is bursting with anger, style, and power. There are flaws, though. Laura Harrier’s character is underwritten, characters are oddly underdeveloped, and the tone shifts can be a bit much. The greatest frustration are fascinating themes such racism within the police, everyday citizens being Klansmen and faith vs. the KKK are identified, but never explored. All said and done, the film deserves to find an audience, and it will resonate in unique ways with every individual. Spike Lee is back. Bring on his next project.
Rhys – 5/5
The key to BlacKkKlansman’s direct effectiveness is how damn fun it is. It’s a zippy buddy cop romp with all the expected thrilling action, razor-sharp banter and odd-couple hijinks. Smuggled into a wide release to under this appealing, likeable cover, the sheer, controlled anger at its core is delivered with immense skill and consideration by the recently-slapdash Spike Lee. It’s geared very much as a film for today’s America, first in sly nods and knowing references that ratchet up progressively ahead of a solemn, stark closing sequence that pulls the curtain back completely and leaves you silent.