- Gist: The first black police officer in Colorado Springs in the 1970’s first infiltrates a black student organization, then infiltrates the Ku Klux Klan with the help of a white officer.
- Punch: Tense, well-paced, humor both light and dark, hotly political–the stiffest Spike Lee joint in years.
- Controversy: It was meant to stir things up. A recent critique by Boots Riley, a long-time fan of Spike Lee, published on Twitter and Slate.com, focuses on how the film alters facts to create an idealistic picture of the police instead of a realistic one–ironic, perhaps, but misleading if taken as history. Which leads me to…
- True Story?: Not really. The movie invents its most salient points, differing from Ron Stallworth’s book, and for most of what the book claims we have only Stallworth’s word. I don’t see how this is enough to call the film “based on a true story.” Better to take this as fiction in the context of the all-too-real racist USA.
- Relevance: “Timely” is so true it’s inadequate. Whatever the 1970’s were, this story is for NOW, for the resurgence in American racism–overt, covert, and integral to the government, churches, and corporate shells of early 21st century America.
- Acting: Adam Driver shines, John David Washington makes it work.
- Afros: 471. I counted.
- Idiots: More than I can count. It has Klansmen in it, after all.
- Triggers: 50. Naturally has offensive content, though nothing sexual.
Conclusion: See it with your guard up and your mind engaged.