Spike Lee’s Netflix original, Da 5 Bloods, follows four black Vietnam veterans in modern day as they return to where they once fought not only to find gold left behind by the U.S., but also to locate the remains of one of their fellow soldiers. This movie covers the complications that come with coming home from war as well tackling what it means to be forced to fight America’s battles as a black person.
I’m not too familiar with Spike Lee’s movies, this is only the second one I’ve seen from him, the first being BlackKklansman, which I really enjoyed. But after revisiting this movie I’m really interested in checking out everything else he’s done. I think he tells really relevant and important stories and clearly he resonates with a lot of people.
The movie opens with real life footage of the civil rights movement juxtaposed with the Vietnam war and the violence that came from it. Through this we get a sense of one of the biggest themes in this movie of fighting for a country that isn’t fighting for you, which is something the main cast struggles with throughout.
Speaking of which, the cast is amazing. From the first scene of them all reuniting after years apart, there’s a lot of chemistry between all of them. Delroy Lindo really stands out in his role as Paul. Out of all the bloods, Paul is the most obviously affected by his time in Vietnam, experiencing the full effects of PTSD but refusing to get any help. Not only does he stand out in his group because of his unhealed trauma, but also because of his political beliefs. From one of the first scenes it’s noted that unlike all the other guys, he’s a Trump supporter. Throughout there’s a disconnect that forms between him and the rest of the group that eventually leads to deadly consequences. Lindo plays this character so well, and he really gets to shine towards the second half of the movie as Paul’s actions become more and more extreme.
Chadwick Boseman’s role is small but very significant. He plays Stormin’ Norman, the fallen soldier who the rest of the bloods are searching for. We get to see him through flashbacks with the whole group fighting in the Vietnam war. He has a huge impact on the group, acting as a teacher and role model to them. He was the only one of the five not to come back home and the rest feel a major obligation to bring him back. It’s especially eerie and saddening to see Boseman in this ghost-like role after his passing in August. This serves as a great reminder to how significant he was as an actor. While he’s better remembered for playing Black Panther and the cultural impact that had on the world, seeing Bosemen in this role alone makes the movie worth it.
By far this is my favorite movie so far this year. With movies continuing to get pushed back and delayed it’s looking like this will be one of the best movies we get out of this year, if not the best. It’s relevant to race issues happening today and to the Black Lives Matter movement. Some great performances have come out of it and Spike Lee has proven himself again as an amazing writer/director.