Taylor Williams’s review published on Letterboxd:
In History of Editing, Sam Pollard showed us a clip from Miracle at St. Anna that’s almost identical to the Hanoi Hannah scene in this movie. I didn’t think the scene was very good, but I’m beginning to wonder if that’s just because I saw it out of context and if I would feel the same way about this scene under the same conditions. Because of how off-the-walls the editing is throughout Da 5 Bloods and how much it plays into genre tropes for both irony and sincerity, it worked really well, and it makes me think about how Pollard told us that every editing job he’s had consisted of a lot of creative freedom on his part, except when he’s editing for Spike Lee. For those gigs, he was simply given instructions and did his job. Lee knows what he’s doing.
There’s a lot to unpack here, but I’m particularly impressed with the distinction between evil antagonism and antagonism that’s merely a symptom or consequence of the evil, forming a conclusion about the Vietnam War and its aftermath that’s as complex in this narrative film as in a documentary like Hearts and Minds. This is especially effective when the film nearly breaks away from narrative structure in the third act, and it deals with the politics of the war in a more grounded/less abstract way than Full Metal Jacket or Apocalypse Now, which is referenced numerous times, without sacrificing the ability to hit successful spiritual beats.