'Da 5 Bloods' Review: Spike Lee's Drama Tries To Find The Hidden Treasure
It was filmed last year but there couldn’t perhaps be a more timely movie right now than Da 5 Bloods by director-writer Spike Lee. We’re always off to a good start when there’s a slight twist on a type of film that you’ve seen done again and again before, as in this case referencing the Vietnam War but dealing with struggles of black soldiers which is often put to the sidelines. There’s an undeniable, infectious passion that radiates from Lee when it comes to his work and Da 5 Bloods isn’t an exception. There’s a fantastic cast giving it their all and some technical trickery to spice things up which makes up for some stop-start momentum the weaker parts have.
The main cast of Delroy Lindo (Paul), Clarke Peters (Otis), Norm Lewis (Eddie), Isiah Whitlock Jr. (Melvin) and Jonathan Majors (David) work really well together for the whole time but a couple of them manage to shine. Majors plays Paul’s son David with the most restraint which makes it not turn too flashy as Lindo is the one who needs to be that. Their scene play together is just on an insane level for the entire runtime and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them in awards conversation. Something that seemed iffy at first was the flashy cinematography. Luckily after the first couple of times when aspect ratios changed, those changes became a part of the story which highlighted the amazing work from Newton Thomas Sigel; be on the lookout for the scenes in the jungle.
Some of the technical side doesn’t however work that smoothly. Lee and editor Adam Gough make a lot of decisions along the way that took me right out of the film several times. As with his films usually, it very much depends on the viewer whether you like this style of editing because no colours are spared on the canvas. The use of archival video and still photos really wrecked a lot of this film since you do get interested in the main group of men and their journey to their fallen brother. Some of them felt more necessary to the locations for example but when all of that is combined with messing with timelines and flashbacks, it just became a distraction from the immersion. Runtime isn’t the issue here because of the interesting main story, just the use of the time felt polluted.
Smileys: Jonathan Majors, Delroy Lindo, cinematography
Frowneys: Editing, structure
Bloods will spill.