Title: Da 5 Bloods
MPAA Rating: R
Director: Spike Lee
Starring: Delroy Lindo, Jonathan Majors, Clarke Peters
Runtime: 2 hrs 34 mins
What It Is: Paul (Lindo), Otis (Peter), Eddie (Norman Lewis), and Melvin (Isiah Whitlock Jr.) are all African American veterans of the Vietnam War who served under their late infantry leader, Norman (Chadwick Boseman). These four men return to Vietnam to retrieve the remains of Norman that they left behind along with the millions of dollars worth of gold they had recovered from the war and had left buried. In order to achieve their goals, they must go head-to-head against the wrath of nature and the damaging forces of humanity. With fear, paranoia, and the looming threat of death abounding, will these men be able to come out alive of the jungles of Vietnam yet again?
What We Think: Simply put, this film had a massive amount of potential that’s hidden away somewhere amidst all the chaos. The highlights of this movie include the soundtrack and breathtaking cinematography. But those things get stomped all over by the very random character developments, the lack of a set genre, and the unfortunate length of the movie. Seemingly out of nowhere characters would do and say things just to spice up the story and create tension which just fueled the fire that is the uncertainty of any real motives for these characters. While it’s clear the main characters are war veterans, this movie isn’t consistently a war movie. While there are defining moments and plot lines that fit the war genre, this felt more like a mature and violent The Goonies with a random sprinkling of an acid trip flick. And while this movie is over two and a half hours, I can’t even recall more than a handful of major things that happened. The first hour was pure exposition and from there on it was impossible not to get bored by nearly every scene taking place in the foliage of Vietnam. This movie had no business being over an hour and forty minutes.
Our Grade: C, This movie certainly isn’t awful. There are obviously very powerful messages and political statements that should be reflected upon, especially in 2020. But a profound thought can’t save a weak story and poorly written characters. What saved this from getting a lower rating was the outburst of emotion in the last twenty or so minutes. Somehow I felt myself caring even though I hadn’t cared about much that had happened up until that point. I should point out this is the first Spike Lee joint I have seen. Maybe there’s something in this mess that Lee fans all enjoy. But I’m willing to bet it’s simply just a movie that was poorly executed.