Brett Schutt’s review published on Letterboxd:
Da 5 Bloods to me feels like the first major 'event' movie of the year. It only took till mid June to release a film I think will make a major splash during award season. If I'm going to be honest, I think this will be our Best Picture winner but that's another post for another time.
Da 5 Bloods is a story about four veterans going back to Vietnam to bet gold they had buried with their squad leader. Spike Lee brings us this film fresh off of Blackkklansman which was another movie I loved. However, Da 5 Bloods feels even more sprawling and epic then Blackkklansman did. This movie has such a massive scale and it is a really powerful journey to behold.
The first hour of this film seems to just be a nice hangout film with some veterans getting back together and reliving the days they were "in the shit" of Vietnam. I love movies that take their time with their characters and their dynamics and Spike Lee does that here so well. The film meanders in the best way and all of the conversations these men have about sacrifice, faith and war are all so fascinating.
There's a single moment in this thing- a single scene that changes the rest of the movie. A moment in this that had me audibly gasp out loud watching the film in my bedroom. The film then becomes a war movie and my word the tension does not led up. It's not only the tension of others wanting the gold these men came to collect, but the men themselves as they struggle to know what they do in moments and having to make decisions on when not to compromise and when you have to. The film is unpredictable and I was consistently engaged in the experience of figuring out where the movie went. I will say that in Blackkklansman, the ending shook me to my core and here it really didn't. However the movie itself isn't trying to be as provocative or brash as Blackkklansman or even Do the Right Thing. Da 5 Bloods is a very slow burn of a film and it has moments of hyper violence but it also takes time to breathe a bit as well. We see scenes of these veterans singing along to Marvin Gaye and it is just very- nice and calming.
This film put me in a trance not many are able to. It is such a shame that this isn't in theatres because I would love to see this on the big screen. Hopefully in December some theatres will play it again for Oscar Consideration because my word this movie is gorgeous. It messes with a bunch of quick cuts and aspect ratio changes that could have come off really jarring but Spike Lee understands this craft of film better then the majority of us. Each and every shot of this film is STUNNING and the use of grain in a 4:3 ratio to present the past juxtaposed with a 16:9 ratio in digital to show the present is just genius. It helps tell the story so well and helps certain scenes stick out and come to life in a really clever way.
Some of the quick edits and cuts to other characters and historical events reminded me of Wes Anderson in a certain way. There's something quirky and off filter about this film and the way it operates. Yet every decision that is made helps tell the story so incredibly well that I was into it the whole time.
The only thing that really suffers is the pace. This is a dense two and a half hours and there were times where it could drag a bit. However, I was never bored by it and I found some of the time for air to be refreshing. Yet, I definitely at times felt the runtime but I couldn't really tell you what I would change because I loved everything about this movie. So my only negative might actually be a positive.... sign of a dope movie.
Spike Lee tells us a true statement here. It's to love and respect our brothers who are so noble to help fight for our right to live. To put our first to all the noble men in the world and appreciate them. It is very timely right now to show us that black lives do matter and they always will and they all come from different walks from life. This doesn't make them any less important or any more honored.
An aspect of this film I was not expecting was for one of the veterans to be a major Trump supporter. It is a very odd choice on Spike Lee's part but I loved the way he handled that character. He showed what a flawed and messed up person he was but also showed how he got the way he was and I felt more sorry for him then anything else. It was very tastefully done.
The film is ultimately about loving our neighbor and appreciating what we have. Being one with Gods grace. So please at some point today- tell someone you love and appreciate them. We take our luxuries for granted with our own life troubles- but none of them equate to what these soldiers went through. So be thankful for all that you have been given because we are very blessed. Thank you Spike Lee for reminding us of this and reminding us to continue to fight for the ones who are less fortunate then us. We are all God's children.
Powerful, beautiful, haunting and poetic cinema. Da 5 Bloods is a film to behold and easily my favorite film of the year. Spike Lee is easily becoming one of my all time favorite directors.
(side note- I apologize for King of Staten Island for having my number one spot for less than 24 hours. What can I say, it's a good weekend and that film is so worth your time as well check it out!)