The great Spike Lee has returned with what amounts to his best film since Malcolm X … 26 years ago. Based on a true story, with some significant tweaking, it centers on Ron Stallworth (John David Washington, son of Denzel), a black police officer in Colorado who, on a whim, decided to infiltrate the Ku Klux Klan by posing as a redneck. It wound up being a two-man sting, with Stallworth pretending to be a white man on the phone while sending in a white partner (depicted here by Adam Driver) to do the face-to-face work. Stallworth’s investigation eventually leads to him being named head of a local chapter of the KKK, and direct dealings with David Duke (Topher Grace), Grand Wizard of the KKK and all-time major asshole. The movie is as crazy as the story was, with Spike balancing intense drama and humor perfectly. Washington is as good as his old man in this movie, and Driver continues to show he’s always one of a cast’s MVP’s. Lee, shooting on celluloid again, makes a fantastic-looking movie; he’s a master of period pieces, with this one set in the ’70s. The film’s conclusion uses current events news footage—including Charlottesville—showing the unfortunate and all too real racism parallels between the events in this film and the current state of America. The movie is a great watch, but it is also a loud, absolutely necessary wakeup call.

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