Regardless of the politics, the life and times of Malcolm Little as portrayed in Malcolm X is a true American story. "Malcolm X" can truthfully be said to be one of Spike Lee's best films, which was an important step for him, perhaps the most important one of his career. This biopic, and Spike's fifth full-length feature, makes only partial sense as a follow-up to his other hits, "Do The Right Thing," "Mo' Better Blues" and "Jungle Fever,' the three films in which he created and developed his unique voice and made a name for himself as one of the most prominent independent filmmakers in the US; Spike's own voice can barely be heard in Malcolm X, and his usually immediately recognizable trademarks are tough to point out.
The reason is that for the first time in his career Spike Lee took a step back, and he is not the dominant personality in the film; the dominant personality is Malcolm X himself, and Spike let Malcolm's voice be heard throughout the film louder than anything else. This film was more of a statement than Spike's previous films. Its scope is immensely larger than anything he did before - it does, after all, span 200 minutes gracefully. Spike tackles "Malcolm X" head on the very subjects he treated with symbolism and subtlety in this film, and therefore is a natural and important progression for him. In a biopic, the most important factor is for the director to care about the subject and Mr. Lee clearly proves that.
Malcolm X boasts a huge ensemble casts, with wonderful performances by Delroy Lindo, Angela Bassette, Al Freeman Jr. (in a harrowing performance as Muslim extremist Elijah Muhammad) and Spike Lee himself - but the movie is still entirely Malcolm X's, and therefore Denzel Washington's. Spike's protégé gave a lifetime performance in "Mo' Better Blues" two years earlier, but he surpassed it with his gut-wrenching portrayal of "Malcolm X," which earned him an Oscar nomination and based him as one of the best actors of his generation.
Malcolm X is an important film that is impressive, moving, and beautifully film. This film is highly recommended to every culture.