Recommendation: 3/5 Stars, STREAM
Director: Spike Lee, Writers: Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz, Starring: John David Washington, Adam Driver, Laura Harrier
Plot: “Ron Stallworth, an African American police officer from Colorado Springs, CO, successfully manages to infiltrate the local Ku Klux Klan branch with the help of a Jewish surrogate who eventually becomes its leader. Based on actual events.” -IMDB
Review: In 2019, you would think a movie about an African-American man infiltrating the Ku Klux Klan to expose their criminal intent would be nothing more than a look back at a peculiar time in our country’s history. Instead, this story serves as a mirror. It reflects where we’ve been and how much further we have to travel. While accomplishing this aim, it reveals a pioneering spirit; the same spirit that will need to be summoned once again if we are to push back the forces attempting to divide us.
Spike Lee tells stories about race and he does it better than most. He has a masterful way of exposing racism in a way that is both sympathetic and enraging. He builds stories that are for all people and this film is no different. By having Ron Stallworth (John David Washington) infiltrate the Klan while working alongside a white, Jewish officer played by Adam Driver, Lee leaves a message ringing loud and clear. The message of we all have skin in this game rings loud when it is Driver’s character who experiences a close call that puts the whole case in jeopardy.
Throughout this film, there is regular police procedural work that exists in lots of films. There is doubt cast about the merit of the case. There is an ever-increasing sense of escalation. There are whiffs of terrorism that rise to the surface. If we weren’t talking about the KKK and a black officer pulling the strings against them, it would be easy to see this as just another cop movie. Instead, we are treated to something much more profound and timely.
In the end, this film morphs into a story about systemic torture and pain. It reveals the endless loop of history repeating itself. Yet, there is hope. There are men and women willing to do the hard work of ensuring hate groups such as the KKK are exposed and brought into the light. That is the only place where darkness can’t be beaten.
Be good to each other,
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