Director: Spike Lee
Writers: Danny Bilson, Paul De Meo, Spike Lee, and Kevin Willmott
Starring: Delroy Lindo, Jonathan Majors, Clarke Peters, Norm Lewis, Isaiah Whitlock Jr, Melanie Thierry, Paul Walter Hauser, Jasper Paakkonen, Jean Reno, and Chadwick Boseman
Plot: Four Vietnam veterans go back to Vietnam to retrieve the body of their fallen leader and a fortune they left behind.
Review: I know it’s ridiculously early to make this call, but I think I just saw our first 2020 Best Picture nominee. Or, at least, I did if the Academy wants to be as “important” as they think they are. Because Da 5 Bloods rocks, is super well made, and speaks perfectly to the times that we’re in. It instantly became my favorite movie of the year and I can’t imagine that ten better movies are going to come along to knock it out of contention. I really, really enjoyed this movie.
Sometimes, despite their release dates being set months or even years in advance, movies just get lucky and come out at just the right time. That’s definitely the case for Da 5 Bloods. It’s a movie that speaks very much to the Black Lives Matter movement. It tells the story of black soldiers who feel betrayed by their country. They have been fighting for this country for hundreds of years, only to be treated like second rate citizens at home. It’s tragic. And, while I understand that this has been an issue for years, it’s a super relevant message for today. A new spotlight has been shone on the black struggle. A lot of people are looking for this type of message right now and Da 5 Bloods definitely hits with a deep dose of reality.
Likewise, it dives deep into Vietnam and the war in general. It makes a point to show how scarred (emotionally and physically) we leave our soldiers. And, for what? Forty years later, it doesn’t really matter all that much anymore. These men don’t hate the Vietnamese. In fact, there seems to be a lot of remorse on both sides. They even say at one point that the war was all about money and money was all about war. It’s really chilling stuff.
But, don’t think that Da 5 Bloods is all serious and depressing. It’s actually a super fun movie. Each and every character is likable and has their own unique quirks. The dialogue between these old friends is super entertaining. A lot of crazy shit happens in that jungle that I can’t get into for spoiler reasons. And, it’s crazy violent. Seriously, as the best movies do, I feel like it works perfectly well without all of the moral lessons. It’s just a fun trip to be a part of.
After being in the business for 40 years, Spike Lee got his only Best Director nomination for BlacKkKlansman. I expect him to get his second this year, because this movie was perfectly directed. From the beautiful shots of Vietnam to the literally in your face character moments, I loved every choice he made here. I liked the fact that, whenever they referenced a historical figure, their picture or a video of them would come up on the screen. I liked that the Vietnam flashbacks were filmed in a different aspect ratio and lower quality film so it seemed like we were actually watching footage from the war. I haven’t seen a lot of Spike Lee’s work (sadly, I’ve only seen his two most recent films), but I’m definitely becoming a fan and want to dive into his past work.
I would also definitely expect an Oscar nomination for Delroy Lindo. While all of the performances are top notch, his character was maybe the most interesting of them all. He plays a vetern who very much suffers from PTSD and is having a super hard time being back in Vietnam. Watching his character unravel is one of the most entertaining and devastating aspects of the movie. It’s insane how well he managed to make this character sympathetic while he does and says some truly awful things. I 100% think he crushed it. And, while I’d understand if the Oscars forget about this movie by the time the nominations roll around, they better not leave his stellar performance out because that would be a true injustice.
Overall, I freaking loved Da 5 Bloods. It’s a two and a half hour movie but I thought the time flew by. It manages to balance tragic, important lessons with a funny, unpredictable storyline. I never once felt like it’s message was too heavy handed but it still got it’s point across very effectively. Plus, Spike Lee is a hell of a director and he has a hell of a cast. I’d definitely give it a stream on Netflix when you get the chance. I guarantee you’ll have a fun time. And you may even learn something along the way.
TL;DR: Da 5 Bloods is an entertaining, relevant, and important movie that everyone should see. It’s my favorite movie of 2020 so far.
Score: 10/10 (Masterpiece)