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Wick's Review

Created Aug 17, 2018 10:07PM PST • Edited Sep 10, 2018 10:28PM PST

  1. Quality
  2. Very Good 3.5

    Spike Lee found a true American tale worthy of his talents in the exploits of detective Ron Stallworth, the black officer who led a successful takedown of the KKK in late Seventies America. It’s crazy funny.

    Stallworth is a true American hero, straight up, the only one unblemished in Lee’s tediously tendentious BlacKkKlansman. Everyone else is venal, stupid, Pavlovian, or a combo thereof – a classic Spike Joint.

    The problem is that the movie and its maker abide by the Faulknerian proverb The past isn’t over. It isn’t even past, striving to make the case that 2016 America was 1979 America was 1920s America. In fact, the population of white supremacists peaked in 1920, was vastly diminished by the 1970s featured in the movie and is largely extinguished today, notwithstanding the Charlottesville demonstrations and riots, whose dead-enders have since splintered, thereby becoming further reduced. But some reject all that reality.

    Spike and Woke Amerika live in the past and tie all of The Other to the worst of the few, without holding themselves to a similar standard. Smug self-righteousness isn’t a good look, making this not a great movie.

  3. Really Great 4.5

    John David Washington burns bright as Detective Ron Stallworth. The Force is strong in the young Washington, as he’s shown for years as the prima donna wide-receiver on the Rock’s show Ballers. With a successful leading-man movie performance under his belt, JohnDavid only needs 50 more to catch his pops.

    • Adam Driver is strong as Detective Flip Zimmerman, a reluctant Jew.
    • Laura Harrier jumps offscreen with her model face and crisp line delivery.
    • Topher Grace is more simpering than scary as David Duke.
    • Corey Hawkins is smoothly demagogic as Stokely Carmichael / Kwame Ture. Hawkins has quite an oeuvre now, starting with his Dr. Dre in Straight Outta Compton.
    • Robert John Burke brings his tough-guy persona to the role of Colorado Police Chief Bridges.
    • Nicholas Turturro is always a welcome sight, even if playing a KKK bomber.
    • Harry Belafonte looms over a scene as an old man testifying about a long-ago lynching.
    • Alec Baldwin is less impressive than usual as a cackling old KKK coot.
    • Isiah Whitlock Jr. damn near steals his one scene. Of course he does.
  4. Male Stars Really Great 4.5
  5. Female Stars Really Great 4.5
  6. Female Costars Really Great 4.5
  7. Male Costars Really Great 4.5
  8. Very Good 3.5

    Spike’s film has two peaks: the crazy caper that detective Ron Stallworth cooked up to catch the Klan, and the mesmerizing speech that Stokely Carmichael / Kwame Ture delivered to an assembly of black students. About that latter, his Black is Beautiful cadences were uplifting and beautiful.

  9. Direction Very Good 3.5
  10. Play Good 3.0
  11. Music Great 4.0
  12. Visuals Really Great 4.5
  13. Content
  14. Risqué 2.1
  15. Sex Titillating 1.6
  16. Violence Fierce 1.8
  17. Rudeness Profane 2.8
  18. Glib 1.2

    Spike Lee clearly played some reality games with the story of Detective Ron Stallworth of the Colorado Springs PD. But much of the underlying story is apparently true.

    True doesn’t mean not stupid, especially on the part of the KKK. To wit, Stallworth was a very prominent black name in 1979, when an imbecilic David Duke made Ron Stallworth a Member in Good Standing of the KKK. Meanwhile, John Stallworth was catching Super Bowl touchdowns from Terry Bradshaw. Duh!

  19. Circumstantial Glib 1.7
  20. Biological Natural 1.0
  21. Physical Natural 1.0


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