BlacKkKlansman review round-up: Spike Lee's black empowerment story is his 'strongest' work in years

FP Staff

August 20, 2018 17:26:13 IST

BlacKkKlansman has been hailed as "the most important film of the year" and director Spike Lee's "most inspired work in years." The film opened strongly with $10.8 million in the US, making it the filmmaker's best debut since 2006's Inside Man. It has already earned over $23 million at the North American box office since its debut on 10 August, according to Box Office Mojo.

John David Washington and Laura Harrier in BlacKkKlansman. Image via Twitter

John David Washington and Laura Harrier in BlacKkKlansman. Image via Twitter

The Focus Features release, which took the Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival in May, was timed to the anniversary of the violent clashes between white nationalists and anti-racism counter protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia. Lee's film, produced by Jordan Peele (Get Out), is a true-life tale of African-American police detective Ron Stallworth (played by John David Washington, son of Denzel), who in 1979 infiltrated a Colorado Springs, Colorado, cell of the Ku Klux Klan.

Here's what the critics said about the film:

Time's Stephanie Zacharek called it "both hilarious and exquisitely direct, and had it been made before November 2016, you might call Lee’s approach a little alarmist."

AO Scott of The New York Times said: "BlacKkKlansman is a furious, funny, blunt and brilliant confrontation with the truth. It’s an alarm clock ringing in the midst of a historical nightmare, and also a symphony, the rare piece of political popular art that works in all three dimensions."

According to Variety's Peter Debruge, "Lee’s latest is as much a compelling black empowerment story as it is an electrifying commentary on the problems of African-American representation across more than a century of cinema."

Peter Travers of Rolling Stone said: "Spike Lee is coming at you with his greatest and most galvanizing movie in years. BlacKkKlansman is right up there with Do the Right Thing and Malcolm X in the Spike’s Joint pantheon of game-changers."

Empire Magazine's Helen O'Hara remarked: "There are few filmmakers as consistently, burningly passionate as Spike Lee. This is vital and timely work that’s up there with his best, with a gut-wrenching sting in the tail."

Ty Burr of Boston Globe called it "a ferocious mix of prankishness and cold fury that is one of the director’s strongest yet most entertaining works in years."

Vox's Alissa Wilkinson, however, was more critical, noting how BlacKkKlansman "makes its point but lets its audience off the hook too easily."

(With inputs from The Associated Press)

Updated Date: Aug 20, 2018 17:36 PM