Da 5 Bloods

Da 5 Bloods ★★★★

Da 5 Bloods is Spike Lee's politically-fueled fusion of The Treasure of Sierra Madre and Apocalypse Now, boasting a terrific cast that fully embodies the significant contribution of black soldiers in the wars America's leaders unjustifiably involved the nation in. Delroy Lindo personifies a PTSD-stricken, black Trump supporter with incredible emotional depth, giving one of the most notable performances of 2020 so far. Lindo is accompanied by Jonathan Majors and Clarke Peters with equally affecting performances. Lee's direction is evidently showy, utilizing photos, historical footage, and aspect ratio tricks to fabricate a distinct yet informative experience. Not all of Lee's devices work cohesively, but there is undeniable power in the film's material.

A group of veterans travels to Vietnam in search of treasure, which becomes a poison that triggers the personal struggles of the men, as well as their disagreements with each other's stances. Lindo becomes the Humphrey Bogart of the group, facing his internal demons and his longstanding guilt through impressive fourth wall monologues. But it's not the strained relationships that prove to be the ultimate villain. Outside forces that reflect the white supremacist oppression of the black community led to the further breakdown of the bond of the Bloods. Lee maintains his strong remark that it is the powerful white men like Trump that causes division in the nation, even among the marginalized black men who fail to see their sole enemy.

The writing strikes a wrong chord when the characters fail to get a fully realized background and arc despite the long runtime, or when the stilted dialogues and plot decisions lead to further narrative disarray. Some of the cinematography and editing, especially in the jungle, are unpleasant and bizarre for a Spike Lee effort. But Da 5 Bloods is ultimately elevated by the material it owns. To say that it is socially-relevant is not even enough. Lee still proves to be a master director through his bold artistic choices, resonant commentary, and masterfully-constructed third acts. I might not consider Da 5 Bloods to be on par with the unnerving BlacKkKlansman, but it still owns a resounding voice that needs to be heard more than ever.

Black Lives Matter.

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