Spike Lee compels viewers to look at the chasm between racial equality and the expendability of Black bodies from past to present-day scenarios in the Netflix drama "Da 5 Bloods."
"Da 5 Bloods" holds a magnifying glass to the interconnections of the world and people. Set to a variety of Marvin Gaye's political message songs from the early '70s, the film is not the typical white-washed war movie. It is jarring and captivating early on. It makes you uncomfortable.
The film follows four Black veterans returning to Vietnam on a mission to find buried treasure and their dead commander, Stormin' Norman (Chadwick Boseman) remains. The veterans — called the Bloods — journey in the Vietnam jungle reveals the long-term ramifications that the war brought.
In the first hour, you casually get to know the Bloods and their complex personalities. Paul (Delroy Lindo), Eddie (Norm Lewis), Melvin (Isiah Whitlock, Jr.) and Otis (Clarke Peters) work well together as an ensemble and balance sad truths with comedic reliefs. The Black man's narrative of the Vietnam War is contextualized with archival news reports, still photographs and footage. Shared trauma hauntingly connects the Bloods.
By the second hour, Spike Lee starts to show the goriness and the unpredictability of war. From stepping on buried land mines to shootouts, nothing was left to the imagination. By the time you could process the death of one character, someone else would die.
Lindo, who plays Paul, delivers a remarkable performance in grasping the mind's fragility and how for some the war never ends. In Spike Lee fashion, he breaks the fourth wall and delivers a triggering soliloquy induced by his PTSD and a snake venom bite.
Although, some sequences and scenes are carried on for far too long and the switching of the aspect ratio can take you out of the moment "Da 5 Bloods" hits a political nerve. It questions how a better future can exist if past issues remain present.
"Da 5 Bloods" is rated R and is available for streaming on Netflix.