Coco 💥’s review published on Letterboxd:
I did not expect this movie to be such a stressful viewing experience. Most of the time I was sitting there, heart pounding as I prayed that the worse wouldn't happen. I got a few chuckles in the rest of the time. But, man, I actually found myself biting my nails at what I thought was going to be a purely comedic satire.
I agree with some other reviewers that the movie could've hit the racism subject a little harder. It shows racists as violent, hideous, unpredictable, and to be laughed and jeered at. It forces you to look at racism at its ugliest, and while that's something Good (hey, how many other wide-released movies will show a mainstream audience actual anti-Trump and pro-BLM content?), I feel like it's pretty tame. Like, it's palatable enough for most Americans to wince and shake their heads at the injustices onscreen. Even enough to make them do the same to the injustices in our present day. But is it enough to make them reevaluate themselves?
Obviously, racism is much more complicated, and I fully believe that Spike Lee has a vastly greater knowledge about it than I, a teenage Asian American, do. Still, I wish this movie wasn't as burdened by the need to appeal to a non-black liberal audience. But I do understand that I may be unnecessarily calling for a grad-level discussion about racism in just a two-hour summer movie. While I do think a more deeper, nuanced direction would've really taken this movie a step forward, it's ultimately not the movie's responsibility to educate us. And I am grateful that this movie has still managed to make an impact on people. And isn't that what really matters?
I do really like this film. There is so much love and care for black folks in the way Lee portrays their scenes and conversations together (Angela Davis!!!). He brings light to actual tragedies and injustices in graphic, realistic detail, but refrains from being crude. And I don't know, I liked the interesting angle with the "are all cops inherently bad?" conflict, to which Lee answers, I think, "it's complicated."
Anyways, Washington is wonderful and charming. Adam Driver is so obviously Adam Driver (or like a reincarnation of his "Logan Lucky" character), but he's still a welcome addition. And all those other white people... were just doing the Most to be white people. Spot-on editing, of course. The music got a little bit repetitive and heavy for my taste. Yeah, I'm getting tired now aha.
But thanks, Spike Lee, for giving us a movie with a message that we will always need to be reminded of. Hopefully one day we will remember.