It’s the early 1970s, a time of great social upheaval as the struggle for civil rights rages on. Ron Stallworth (John David Washington) becomes the first African-American detective on the Colorado Springs Police Department, but his arrival is greeted with skepticism and open hostility by the department’s rank and file. Undaunted, Stallworth resolves to make a name for himself and a difference in his community. He bravely sets out on a dangerous mission: infiltrate and expose the Ku Klux Klan. Posing as a racist extremist, Stallworth contacts the group and soon finds himself invited into its inner circle. He even cultivates a relationship with the Klan’s Grand Wizard, David Duke (Topher Grace), who praises Ron’s commitment to the advancement of White America. With the undercover investigation growing ever more complex, Stallworth’s colleague, Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver), poses as Ron in face-to-face meetings with members of hate group, gaining insider’s knowledge of a deadly plot. Together, Stallworth and Zimmerman team up to take down the organization whose real aim is to sanitize its violent rhetoric to appeal to the mainstream.
The movie is based on a true story but it takes lot of cinematic liberties. The real Flip wasn’t Jewish and there was no lie detector test and there was no bomb attack in real life. There has also been criticism from Boots Riley, director of Sorry to Bother You, that the movie tries to portray the cops and Ron Stallworth in good light. Link
Some scenes are excellent like the scene where Felix asks Flip to take a lie detector test or the scene where Flip is baptized into the clan. The final scene showing the Charlottesville incident is really powerful showing how relevant the story is in today’s world.
John David Washington who is son of Denzel Washington was very good as Detective Ron Stallworth. Adam Driver was excellent as Detective Philip “Flip” Zimmerman and has been nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. Laura Harrier was good as Patrice Dumas. Topher Grace was excellent as David Duke. Jasper Pääkkönen was excellent as Felix. Ryan Eggold was very good as Walter Breachway. Paul Walter Hauser was good as Ivanhoe. Ashlie Atkinson was good as Connie Kendrickson. Harry Belafonte and Alec Baldwin were good in brief cameos. The rest of the cast was good too.
Spike Lee’s direction is good but I don’t think he deserved an Oscar nomination. He should have received a Oscar nomination for Malcolm X back in 1992. The movie is more a comedy than a serious drama about the threat from Klu Klux Klan. The members of the Klu Klux Klan including David Duke are portrayed as stupid. The movie has been nominated for 6 Oscars including Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Film Editing and Best Original Score. The movie while not entirely factual is still entertaining and timely.
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