I’ve always been a fan of Spike Lee (“BlacKKKlansman“, “Inside Man”) and I’m so glad to say Spike nails it yet again with his story of “Da 5 Bloods”.
Spike’s story begins with four Vietnam War veterans returning to Vietnam 40 years later to retrieve their fallen ‘Blood’ Stomin’ Norman’s, Chadwick Boseman (“Black Panther”, “21 Bridges”) body and the gold they left behind.
Paul, Delroy Lindo (“The Good Fight (TV)”, “Heist”), Melvin, Isiah Whitlock, Jr. (“Cedar Rapids”, “The Wire (TV)”), Eddie, Norm Lewis (“Mrs. America (TV)”, “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (TV)”), and Otis, Clarke Peters (“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri“, “The Wire (TV)”) treat each other like family, but there’s something amiss with each ‘Blood.’
Even with the lack of trust among each other, especially on Paul’s part, the team is ready to find what they buried so long ago. Paul’s estranged son David, Jonathan Majors (“Last Black Man in San Francisco“, “White Boy Rick“) followed Paul to Vietnam to make sure he wasn’t going to kill or be killed in the jungle, which leaves Paul distraught and angry but allows David to join the treasure hunt.
Even though there are a few B-stories that happen with the characters, the vets and their journey is the focal point of this story. So I don’t want to go too much into the other stories, since the movie shines when it has the soldiers front and center.
The whole cast is great, but Lindo and Clarke are the definite standouts with powerful performances as opposites of one another. Lindo creates unpredictable tension every time he’s onscreen, whether it be with his son, his friends, and even plants. While Clarke is the heart of the story, just calm and always cool whenever a situation arises. I hope both get attention when the big awards come out, they are both phenomenal actors and they don’t get these roles as often as they should.
Boseman is touted as the ‘star’ of the film through marketing and he makes his presence known, but he’s secondary to the veteran actors his partnered with. He reminds me of a young Al Pacino as he commands the scenes but also allows those around him to play along at their highest level. I want to see Boseman in more stories like this one rather than stuck in Marvel situations (even though I am a fan of his Marvel films).
Like another Netflix film “The Irishman“, the 60-year old actors play themselves as 20-year old soldiers, but not with de-aging technology or heavy amounts of makeup. I read that some people really didn’t like that, but I thought it was a fantastic way of showing that these men never left the war. They’ll always be these soldiers that killed for the same country that was killing people that looked like them back home.
Like “BlacKKKlansman” before it, Lee infuses history throughout the film to teach about what was happening during the war. There is a special scene that I won’t dare spoil that brought tears to my eyes that made me ask the same question that Paul asked, “Why?”
I am glad Netflix gave Lee the money to do this film, and I am excited to see what their next project will be.
12th June 2020
THE QUICK SELL
Four African American vets battle the forces of man and nature when they return to Vietnam seeking the remains of their fallen squad leader and the gold fortune he helped them hide.