Da 5 Bloods
Four Vietnam War veterans return to the nation to find their buried treasure and the remains of their fallen squad leader.
Although it's a complete coincidence, the release of Da 5 Bloods couldn't have been more timely, with themes of racial injustice and inequality mirroring what's happening in the headlines right now.
The film follows Paul (Delroy Lindo), Otis (Clarke Peters), Eddie (Norm Lewis), and Melvin (Isiah Whitlock Jr.), four African-American Vietnam War veterans who return to Vietnam - with Paul's son David (Jonathan Majors) in tow - to find the gold bars they buried there years before, as well as the remains of their fallen squad leader Stormin' Norman (Chadwick Boseman).
Da 5 Bloods tells a powerful story about how these men are still haunted by the war and shows how conflicted they felt about fighting for a country that has let them down time and time again.
Director Spike Lee hammers home the parallels between the African-Americans in combat and fighting for their rights at home by inserting archival images and footage throughout to a sobering effect.
However, its storytelling style is muddled, and with so many topics to tackle it becomes overstuffed and overlong.
It starts off strong, but once the crew finds their treasure pretty early on, it becomes less focused and more of a conventional and cliched action film.
The special effects also looked cheap in places, while some of the flashback action sequences seemed cheesy, but perhaps this was all intentional.
The actors play themselves in both the present day and the flashbacks. It's confusing and disorientating at first, especially when you see the ageing actors appearing along with Boseman - but the reasoning for this becomes clear later on.
It shows that these men have been reliving those moments in their heads for years.
The standout performer without a doubt was Lindo, who plays a complex, MAGA hat-wearing Trump supporter with untreated PTSD.
Lindo gives an explosive performance filled with pent-up rage and delivers two lengthy monologues to camera which help depict his spiralling mental state.
Majors did well as his son, who is the main sympathetic character and the audience's eyes into the group, and Peters as the sensible Otis. The other two didn't get much depth.
In addition, there's Johnny Tri Nguyen as their guide Vinh, Jean Reno as a shady Frenchman, and Melanie Thierry, Paul Walter Hauser, and Jasper Paakkonen as members of a landmine disposal organisation.
Da 5 Bloods is a bold and violent action-adventure that features powerful performances and delivers an important message.
However, the structure and writing weren't the strongest and the film was unnecessarily long. Not one of Lee's best efforts.
Streaming on Netflix now.
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