2 hr. 15 min. | Rated R |
Starring: John David Washington, Adam Driver, Laura Harrier, Topher Grace
The film is a hugely entertaining and humourous story about a black police officer, Ron Stallworth (played by Spike Lee regular Denzel Washington’s son John David Washington) who infiltrates the Klu Klux Klan.
It is loosely based on the true story and memoir of Stallworth, which has been given a Spike Lee makeover and packs a powerful punch when it absconds from being a 1970s-set farce to make a comment about the Charlottesville rally and the current racial divide in Trump’s America.
Most of the movie is about Stallworth becoming the first African-American police officer in Colorado and being fast-tracked into the undercover team when they need a person of colour to infiltrate a student politics meeting being hosted by Kwame Ture. There he meets the head of the students union Patricia (Laura Harrier) and gets his head turned, politically.
To infiltrate the KKK, Stallworth needs someone to be his avatar. In the most unlikely twinning since Arnold Schwarzenegger was matched with Danny DeVito, Adam Driver plays his fellow cop and Stallworth double. They are a great match in a film that has a 70s aesthetic that is pointedly more Starsky and Hutch than Blaxploitation.
Lee does something quite remarkable. The film could easily have been a fun escapade but the director throughout makes comments on the present day American political divide with ironic jokes.
Then comes the Charlottesville footage and an ending that makes it clear that the America of today is as divided along race lines as it was in the Civil Rights era.