5. The film blends comedy and drama so well that much of the film is appropriately uncomfortable
Spike Lee knows that this story is full of uncomfortable conversations. It was his idea to turn the film into more of a comedy when being assigned the project initially. Lee is fully aware that many aspects of this story could blur lines.
Viewing blatant racists through a comedic lens allows us to find the humour in how pitiful bigotry can truly be. It also makes the actual operation of having undercover detectives (specifically run by a person of colour) even funnier, because you’re in on this secret that is right in front of the faces of idiots this entire time.
One clever tactic that making BlacKkKlansman a dramedy has is that it sometimes gets you to decide what you find funny; in typical Spike Lee fashion, this can be very telling of how you are as a person. Being caught in the middle of finding discomfort funny is all a part of the thrill ride this film provides, because this kind of thing is most certainly not easy in the real world to deal with.
Finally, bringing comedy as a major element makes BlacKkKlansman feel less like a lecture and more like an experience, which definitely allowed Lee to sneak in many additional points that he wanted to say.
6. It tells a grand tale of a smaller piece of a bigger whole
So, obviously the mission gets cut right after lives are jeopardized. After a huge success in having gotten some racists arrested for their crimes of hate (whether they were klan members, related to klam members, or in the police force), “budget cuts” are made. You might have saw it coming, because you may have been aware of the runtime at this point.
Either way, you, like the officers on the case, saw so much potential that could have been realized if this case could have continued. How many more Klan members could have been reprimanded for their hate crimes (yes, the Klan preaches “nonviolence”, but, as we clearly saw, there are Klan members that still attack with the intention to kill). The film ends on a burning cross on the lawn outside of where Ron and Patrice are staying; clearly the war is far from over.
After 2017’s Unite The Right march that exposed the many Klan members that took part, clearly there are still many people that proudly identify as White Supremacists out there. The real Ron Stallworth didn’t actually reveal that he was an African American to David Duke (like you saw in the film), and Duke found out decades later. Stallworth regrets this and not being able to continue the case (or keep the evidence and expose it to the public), because it allowed Duke to try and become a political figure.
There will sadly always be work to do, and knowing that the work in BlacKkKlansman was ended prematurely is a sign that this is only one small tale in the huge, frightening picture. Nonetheless, this tiny story is still one that speaks volumes, and shows a great effort to changing the world for the better; its self-awareness may help its viewers to try and be inspired to create some change on their end, too.
7. It has a few daring artistic decisions that elevate particular scenes
Again, Spike Lee is one of the biggest supporters of the cinematic language. It’s clear in many of the “normal” scenes in BlacKkKlansman. In the following scenes, Lee did something extra to make certain moments stick out more than if other directors had handled them maybe a bit more orthodoxly. When Kwame Ture gives a speech to the student union, the overlaying of faces over a dark backdrop gives a unique look to what would have normally just been a shot of an audience listening.
With this extra step, we now get the full impact of how this speech is inspiring these people as individuals, and not just as a collective crowd. When Ron and Patrice debate their favourite Blaxpoitation films, the posters get plastered onto the shot for us to see. We see the advertisement for these cult films as if we are these two characters discussing and having these images in our minds.
On that note, framing Ron and Patrice as their own kinds of Blaxploitation stars at the end of the film (with the fake dust and scratches to turn the film into “film”, and the signature use of having characters being pulled on a dolly in many of Lee’s works) ends them on a meta note.
These are real people, but here, they are film icons. These moments might remind you that you are watching a film, but some of the best filmmakers can do that in such a way that makes you appreciate the pull; this is a case of such a filmmaker.
8. Its climax is one of the most nerve wracking scenes of the year
At the end of the day, a film can be made better through all the little things, the symbols, the technical wizardry, and talent. But, at the bare basics, is BlacKkKlansman fundamentally a great film? Absolutely. Its pacing allows the climax to truly make you shake out of fear, which is a sign that the entire picture works both altogether and as a service to make the most intense moment resonate appropriately.
When the C4 bomb is planted (not in the mail box, but under the car, out of panic of not getting the bomb to fit in the mail box in time), you have no idea how this will go down. You see many characters collide all in one spot, and everyone is driven by something else. There’s hatred (enough hatred to want to kill people via bomb), the desire to save unsuspecting people, wanting to find a place to hide, and wanting to follow through on said bomb attack that has been set up.
For such a calculated film, all of it makes anatomical sense to us the viewer, but all of it is sheer luck (or bad luck, for the villains) that happens. It’s thrilling, frightening, and unpredictable on the first viewing. For all that BlacKkKlansman has to say, it is just downright a solid film at its core, which elevates it towards becoming a film that many can appreciate in a variety of ways.