I think if you were to compile a list of the best directors from 1985 until 2006 Spike Lee would certainly be one of the top five on there. With films like Mo’ Better Blues, Do the Right Thing, and 4 Little Girls his list would be strong against anyone’s best. However after his first couple of decades creating some solid work, he seemed to have lost his way a bit and became more known as a permanent fixture on the Knick floor, than he did being a filmmaker. I don’t know if he really did lose his mojo, but what I do know is his films were not as good as many of his earlier works that have become classics. In my mind I don’t think he ran out of stories to tell but maybe the passion was not as strong and it has kept him from making the movies he was known for, something I think he has found again.
If you haven’t heard the story of Ron Stallworth ( John David Washington) don’t worry, because you are about to. Stallworth you see was the first African- American police officer in Colorado and all that came with that. While it was a step for him to be hired, the next step would be a lot harder. Stallworth is ambitious and finds a way to become more important and when he doesn’t like the cases he is getting he decides to make up his own. The case he starts is against the K.K.K, who he calls to inquire about joining. Now being a African-American man that might prove difficult, but he enlists the help of Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver) who becomes Stallworth in the flesh, while the real Ron Stallworth plays himself on the phone. Together they play the part and are able to become one with the Klan and attempt to win one for the good guys.
Having the right story to tell can make a world of difference and having the passion for the material of that story makes it complete. Written by a team of writers which includes Lee, Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz, and Kevin Willmott all off of Ron Stallworth’s book feels so long ago, but at the same time sets a precedent that we is all too familiar in today’s culture. In this tale the good guys don’t wear white as there are subtle jabs at where we are now that end up turning into a hammer for the last five minutes of the film. For most of the time though, you feel like this is a Spike Lee Joint, and where it doesn’t, which for me revolves around some music cues and a few choices with the camera, there are the things that cement who’s perspective you are seeing. Having a new film crack the top five of such a celebrated filmmaker like Lee is a testament to how good BlacKkKlansman is, because not only did he make one of the better films of his career, he makes one of the best films you will see all year.