Legendary director Spike Lee brings retired detective Ron Stallworth’s memoir to life in his piercing new film BlacKkKlansman. An engrossing adaption of Stallworth’s induction as the first black police officer in the Colorado Springs Police Department, the film follows his first year on the force where Stallworth would find himself entangled in a case that would help humiliate the Ku Klux Klan.
Set in the late ’70s at the height of the Black Power movement, BlacKkKlansman centers on the young and ambitious Ron Stallworth (portrayed by John David Washington), who refuses to be shoved in the evidence room, a black token in an endless sea of white faces. When Kwame Ture, formerly known as Stokely Carmichael (portrayed by Corey Hawkins) visits Colorado Springs, Ron jumps at the chance to infiltrate the crowd and report back to his supervisor about black activism in the city. What he doesn’t expect is to befriend Patrice Dumas (portrayed by Laura Harrier), the leader of the local college’s Black Student Union. Though Ron is intent on working within the system to make a change, Patrice uses more “radical” approaches to combat racism, white supremacy and injustices even when it means literally putting her body and life at risk.
Given a position in the police department’s intelligence section for his efforts at the Kwame Ture rally, Ron finds himself fascinated with an ad that calls for white people to join the local chapter of the KKK. On a whim, Ron comes up with a scheme to infiltrate the organization and report on its members’ heinous activities and behaviors. However, no matter how “white” Ron’s voice might sound on the phone, his swagger, deep skin tone and gleaming afro prevent him from meeting the local klansmen face-to-face. Instead, he’s forced to partner with Flip Zimmerman (portrayed seamlessly by Adam Driver), a seasoned Jewish detective who wants nothing to do with Ron’s investigation.
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