Da 5 Bloods

Da 5 Bloods ★★★★


Spike Lee's latest (a Netflix Original) takes a retrospective look at the Vietnam War from an African-American perspective.

As ever with Lee, there's potent political messaging aplenty here - but also some genuinely touching moments of character drama and an action-adventure thread running through it which has echoes of last year's Triple Frontier (which was also produced by Netflix). However, aside from one excruciatingly tense and gruesome sequence involving a minefield, the action-adventure aspects are the weakest elements. The jungle shootouts are perfunctory affairs with a lot of CGI blood getting splattered about.

However, the great ensemble cast carries the film through these lesser moments plus a few of Lee's more self-conscious stylistic choices (the excessive Apocalypse Now references). Delroy Lindo, Clarke Peters, Norm Lewis and Isiah Whitlock Jr. are endlessly watchable as they banter and bicker like a group of old friends who still love each other despite their respective viewpoints pulling ever more dramatically apart over the many years since the fateful death of their leader Stormin' Norman (Chadwick Boseman) on the battlefield.

If one of them is a standout, it's Lindo, whose character's bewildering decision to become a Trump supporter is ultimately shown to be rooted in a deeply painful past. His pain-streaked monologue to the camera is arguably the film's most powerful moment. If he isn't at least considered for an Oscar then, quite frankly, he has been robbed.

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