BlacKkKlansman

BlacKkKlansman ★★★½

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

65/100

Thoroughly enjoyable, but way too much of a shameless crowdpleaser (cold splash of present-tense water at the end notwithstanding) to rank alongside—or in some cases even above, ye gods!—a genuinely thorny masterpiece like Do the Right Thing. Indeed, its very premise is fundamentally nonsensical: Why on earth would Stallworth continue speaking to Klan members by phone after Flip has (necessarily) assumed the role in person? That's just shy of actively trying to blow the operation; if it's what actually happened (and I'm skeptical, though too lazy/busy to research it right now), those guys were incompetent. Either way, the split duties can't help but seem expressly designed, in this narrative context, to engineer such satisfying but shallow pleasures as Ron finally revealing his telephonic identity to David Duke—a moment that Lee even provides with onscreen cheerleaders, in the same spirit as having the entire cast applaud when the lovers finally kiss. Not begrudging anyone a little catharsis right now. I cheered, too. It felt great. And the film generally is an expert blend of dry comedy, righteous anger, and low-key suspense—the best reminder since Inside Man of how terrific a major-studio filmmaker Lee might have been, in an era when his integrity and idiosyncrasies would have been better appreciated. But true greatness doesn't aggressively flatter one's core beliefs like this. Ask anyone who was around in the summer of '89.

(True story: At my theater, when the closing montage ended, a woman said, at full volume, speaking to the entire room and not just whoever her companion(s) might have been, "We have to get him out of office." Which sure, please oh please, but that's indicative of the way this plays to the cheap seats a bit.)