In Spike Lee films, the dialogue moves like physical action by charging into social issues with force. It works as an emotional outlet for raising awareness. In BlacKkKlansman, conversations generate suspense for a crime drama that’s partially based on the true story about an undercover detective and the Ku Klux Klan. John David Washington and Adam Driver headline as two officers in Colorado Springs named Ron and Philip who unexpectedly form a partnership to intercept dangerous schemes by the Klan. Ron phones the leader by pretending to be a white man while Philip is undercover in person, posing as Ron, to become a member of the group. He is looked upon with doubt by some of the Klan but ultimately gets accepted.
While the narrative proceeds like an ordinary crime drama, or an undercover detective drama, it is the representation of the Klan that presides over the movie. Driver plays Philip as an impassive detective at first but some members of the Klan frown upon his Jewish traits which he denies owning. This gets Philip to contemplate his heritage, something he didn’t bother with prior to the assignment. It’s a subtle performance. While over the phone, Ron engages in conversations that allow the Klan mastermind (Topher Grace) to reveal his prejudice. Jackson plays Ron as devoted, charismatic, and confident. The screenplay is by Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz, Kevin Willmott, and Spike Lee. For supporting actors, Laura Harrier is cast as the head of the black student union and Corey Hawkins performs as national civil rights leader. The movie’s weakness, I think, is that some scenes feel too manufactured instead of organic to the story, plus the unrestrained hostility can be unnecessary for some viewers. However as a cop drama, the undercover situation is on edge and the danger is palpable. It’s an effective movie.