Da 5 Bloods is a sensational film about brotherhood, loss, and acknowledging our inner demons. Director Spike Lee’s latest film perfectly captures how the inescapable trauma of war lingers with soldiers long after the battles have been fought. While Lee’s catalog of movies spans some of the most recognizable titles in contemporary cinema, Da 5 Bloods is arguably his best work ever. While Do the Right Thing and Blackkklansman were great films, Da 5 Bloods feels more like a cinematic event. The ensemble is riveting from beginning to end, while Delroy Lindo’s performance is so good that he’s all but assured a Best Supporting Oscar nomination. If there’s a textbook definition of what the Best Picture of the year is supposed to look like, then it would be this.
The narrative centers around four African-American Vets — Paul (Delroy Lindo), Otis (Clarke Peters), Eddie (Norm Lewis), and Melvin (Isiah Whitlock, Jr.) as their patrol unit returns to Vietnam in search of the remains of their fallen Squad Leader (Chadwick Boseman) and a stash of gold they buried. Everyone quickly realizes that this trip will be much harder than previously thought.
The editing in Da 5 Bloods is impeccable. Adam Gough skillfully used music from that era to seamlessly transition between the past and present. Cinematographer Newton Thomas Sigel did a remarkable job as well. Sigel used handheld shots quite liberally throughout the film, giving the narrative a more intimate feel. The fight sequences popped on screen due to Sigel positioning the camera behind the soldier’s point of view. Sigel’s camera work ends up being another character during the second act. Those scenes where Lindo’s talking right into the camera were terrific. Terrance Blanchard’s score was sublime while still setting the appropriate tone for the film. Technically, this film couldn’t have been any better.
The pacing of Da 5 Bloods was pitch-perfect. For a film that was over two hours, there isn’t one moment of lag. While it’s inevitable there will be controversy surrounding comments made in the movie about our current president, what’s important is the message of the film. The power that comes from brotherhood is acceptance and, most importantly, love. I can’t think of a better message to convey to the world.