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Stars: John David Washington, Adam Driver, Laura Harrier, Robert John Burke, Harry Belafonte, Jasper Paakkonen, Ryan Eggold, Ashlie Atkinson, Topher Grace, Nicholas Turturro, Frederick Weller, Michael Joseph Buscemi, Alec Baldwin

Director: Spike Lee

One of the problems with Lee's in-your-face portrait of Ku Klux Klan activities in the 1970s is that it's painted in uncomfortably broad strokes, only underlining the fact that many of the developments in its plot would be hard to swallow were we not assured that the whole story is true.

Ron Stallworth (Washington, son of Denzel) is Colorado's first black cop, but he quickly establishes himself at the local precinct with the idea of infiltrating the Klan - by getting his (Jewish) partner Flip (Driver) to apply for membership under Stallworth's name, while Ron himself does the phone work (which doesn't seem to make sense).

Still, their tangled web does lead to contact with the KKK, although one loose cannon, Felix (Paakkonen) remains convinced that 'Ron' is a Jew, a race the Klan hates almost as much as black people.

Meanwhile, the real Ron also makes contact with the KKK's Grand Wizard, David Duke (Grace) who rather surprisingly accepts his voice as that of a white supremacist. But it seems ludicrous that the police would then assign black Ron to be Duke's bodyguard on a visit to Carolina, where the action moves to a head with a KKK bomb plot. But, it seems, it all happened. Only in America.

While condemning Nixon and Trump for their attitudes, Lee makes his most telling points right at the end with newsreel scenes of riots and oppression in present-day West Virginia, showing that 'keep America white' movements are far from finished, These shots hit home more decisively than the rather naively handled main story.

David Quinlan

USA 2018. UK Distributor: Universal. Color by Company 3.
135 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 3.

Review date: 20 Aug 2018