The performances by John David Washington, Adam Driver and Topher Grace are the definite highlights of the film. This true story based of Ron Stallworth’s life as a detective for the Colorado Springs Police Department and influtrating the Ku Klux Klan in 1978 is an important story. This story is quite timely with its release being a year after the events of Charlottesville, VA. With heated tensions on both sides today there is so much parallel between the times of 1970’s to today. Many in the Black community continue to feel as though they are targets by the Police and a lot of those radical racists are too afraid and too focused on their hate to change and be better people.
The coda of the film ends with footage from last years events in Charlottesville and the death of Heather Heyer. Showing the impact of the fight continuing on years later. President Trump’s remarks overlaid in between add a certain tone that is real eye opening and impactful. At first I thought it was a bit jarring and hard to shift between a recreated reality and events that happened before your eyes. Having some time to marinate on it, it worked for the better. I commend Spike Lee’s work on this film and Jordan Peele for producing this project. There is just enough balance between seriousness and some levity to keep it grounded.
There’s never been a black cop in this city. We think you might be the man to open things up around here.
John David Washington and Adam Driver have good chemistry as the leads of the film. Good balance of level headed characters that need each other in order to move forward as characters. Laura Harrier was a solid female lead with her own agency. She was able to make mistakes and able to not just be the love interest. There was a great speech sequence that Corey Hawkins gave, who plays Kwame Ture, and the cameras focuses on the audience in that 80’s silhouette to see the impact his speech was having on the audience. I found it visually perfect and well executed. In contrast the sequence where they show ‘Birth of a Nation’ and intercut between the KKK members watching it and Harry Belafonte’s character was explaining to a group of Black Student Union members the atrocities committed that he witnessed.
A few things that didn’t work for is that a few of the members of the KKK felt a little cartoonish and over the top. It worked for a bit of the humor and for making the point that they are clowns and foolish. I would say the film has a couple of moments were it could have been tightened up and a little more streamlined. I do recommend people to go see the film, whether in theaters or on demand when it comes on home video.