Title – Da 5 Bloods (2020)
Director – Spike Lee (Do the Right Thing)
Cast – Delroy Lindo, Chadwick Boseman, Clarke Peters, Jonathan Majors, Norm Lewis, Isiah Whitlock Jr, Jean Reno, Mélanie Thierry, Paul Walter Hauser
Plot – Four African American Vietnam veterans return to the war-torn country in search of the body of a deceased comrade and a significant amount of gold they buried during a mission they undertook during the war.
“We don’t need no stinkin’ badges”
Review by Eddie on 16/06/2020
Since his first true feature film She’s Gotta Have It in 1986, Spike Lee has remained one of the most passionate and hard-working filmmakers in the industry, with each of his projects being born from the mind of an outspoken individual who isn’t afraid to tackle issues and subject matters others would do all they could to avoid.
While this passion has made for some outstanding individual results and moments, Lee has also continued to be one of the most eclectic directors when its comes to quality control, with audiences unsure whether they are getting a new masterpiece or a genuine dud, such is the wide ranging variation of his projects.
For every Do the Right Thing, The 25th Hour or BlacKKKlansman there’s an Oldboy, Miracle at St. Anna or Red Hook Summer, works of an artist that sometimes loses focus on quality control in his quest to tackle the often controversial material his bringing to life.
One of his most high-profile releases of the last decade, Lee’s first feature since the Oscar winning success of BlacKKKlansman is his long time coming Vietnam passion project Da 5 Bloods, a well-cast Netflix production that shines a light on black service man in the Vietnam war, whilst also offering a thrilling treasure hunt plot-line with aging African American veterans returning to the battlefields of the war torn country.
It’s an incredibly intriguing set-up and one that allows Lee to explore topical race related scenarios while also operating in one of his biggest cinematic playgrounds yet but this two and a half hour exercise is the type of let-down of a film that is littered throughout Lee’s career, as his poor pacing, editing, story developments and intrusively scored effort continually disappoints throughout.
Loaded up with a cast full of talent with Delroy Lindo, The Wire’s Clark Peters and Isiah Whitlock Jr, Jean Reno and Black Panther himself Chadwick Boseman all involved, Da 5 Bloods appears on paper to be ripe for the best type of Lee film but with a collection of mostly unlikable characters, long in the tooth scenarios and situations and an abundance of atrocious plot contrivances (hello gold discovery during a toilet break), Lee’s exercise has too many flaws to overlook and more often than not feels amateurish, not the work of an Oscar winning writer.
It’s not to say the film is bereft of good ideas or moments, there are numerous touching scenes exploring the effect of war on these man, particularly in how they returned to a country that seemed to not value their services or still continued to judge them by their skin color and some of the interplay between the experienced actors makes for both funny and heartfelt viewing but too often than not Lee is hammering his audience over the head with the films topics with all the care of a sledgehammer, instead of refining his product into a polished offering it was so desperately in need of becoming.
Final Say –
A hugely disappointing effort from Lee, Da 5 Bloods may have found its share of critical acclaim but while its themes and subject matter should be commended, as a film; this Netflix release is as unpolished and unfocused as they come.
2 gold bars out of 5