When I got Da 5 Bloods (2020) on my Netflix recommendations, I couldn’t help but jump right onto it… then I saw it’s almost three hours long. I contemplated diving in head first. Most Spike Lee joints require heaps of self-reflection and brain energy but they’re always worth it. The film tackles the semantics of the African American male identity and American patriotism through the stories of five Black men during the Vietnam war in 1955 to 1975.
Chadwick Boseman is not the only eye-catching visual, the cinematography is too. Lee always includes real life footage to set a period-piece. The movie takes place in the present time but flashbacks to the Bloods’ war experience. To indicate that, visuals shift from a very grainy, saturated, analog 4:3 ratio, to a clear, drab, digital 16:9 ratio. Adjacent to the visuals is a heavenly soundtrack that ties in everything: a specific homage to Marvin Gaye, with the film revolving around Black culture in the late ‘60s to ‘70s.
The screenplay is divine featuring a bilingual script, with a singular voice: mundane in nature but drawn from the roots of the characters’ cultures they’re built around (the distinct languages are Vietnamese and AAVE, to be exact).
Honestly, it’s one big masterpiece from the mind of Spike, but following such an amazing film like BlacKKKlansman (2018), it’s tough to claim if Lee has elevated from that… but nonetheless, on its own, Da 5 Bloods is absolutely celestial and to create a film that’s so logically coherent can only be done by a genius.