Steve Lovecraft’s review published on Letterboxd:
Two days from now, it will be a year since the Charlottesville "Unite the Right" rally where a white supremacist rammed his car into a group of counter protesters, killing one and injuring many others. By no small coincidence, Spike Lee decided to release his latest "joint" or as some strange audience member of the Alamo Drafthouse advance screening Q&A vehemently shouted before being escorted out of the building: "It's a Spike Lee 'movie'!" Not sure what that was about, but I think we all know that joint = movie in Spike Lee's esoteric lingo. The current racial divide is inextricably linked to the provocatively titled BlacKkKlansman, and a timely film it will certainly prove to be.
This weekend, my own port of call will be experiencing a "Defend the Flag" rally populated by stars and bars-waving Russia supporters, thin blue line-adorning democrat haters, and other loud morons with large trucks. There will be counter protesters, and hatefulness exchanged "on both sides" ad nauseum. The only difference between the two factions being that the locals came to live in a place that is, at the very least, tolerant of alternate lifestyles, races, religions, genders, and sexual orientations, whereas many of the attendees of this rally will purposefully come here to show us the error of our ways by dragging the streets, looking for someone with turquoise hair to berate while 'Skynryd blares from their government subsidized Dodge Ram.
So I sat down to watch this "based on true events" story of a black police officer in Colorado Springs who infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan on the merit of his charisma and aided by the naivete of David Duke's secret society of backwoods, minority-hating rednecks. As you would expect, he hardly had any complications in this endeavor because people who are particularly drawn towards nationalism and racial scapegoating happen to be, you guessed it, absolute morons. The whole thing plays out like a farce that's mostly populated by uncomfortable cringing. In the mean time, there is dialogue that signals specifically at things Donald Trump said, and the proceedings blatantly point to the Charlottesville tragedy.
It is an uncomfortable experience and rightfully so. However, as much as Lee and the cast gush about how tonally concise the filming was at their Q&A screening, I think they missed the mark. The humor does not overcome how disturbing everything is, and the darkness and prescience of the thing relegates it to an horrifyingly foreboding cycle. There are definitely ironic moments where a cop-hater eats their words, a cop is forced to humanize a perpetrator, a KKK member is exposed to their racial obliviousness, and a Black radical is forced to confront the sustainability of their ideology. Many have said that it is a comeback for Lee. After all, it's novel territory explored many times before in his filmography. Quite frankly it's desensitizing after a while, and I hate to say that it's preaching to the choir. I appreciate what the film is saying, but I don't think that it will serve any purpose beyond it's topical relevance.