Da 5 Bloods

Da 5 Bloods 2

By Joanna Langfield

Spike Lee’s Vietnam stunner would have been hard to shake at any time, but, at this very moment, it feels not just prescient, but essential.

This story of four veterans, reuniting to bring home their squad leader’s remains, is potent just on the face of it, men who, this many years later are still grappling with the haunting echoes of that most controversial war. But this isn’t just a story of PTSD and the buoying of camaraderie. Lee’s pictures are never that simple. Yes, there’s the lure of the gold the troop buried so many years ago, yes, there’s the long lost love left behind, yes, there are so many other stories being told here (some more effectively than others). But they all carry weight, from lessons learned about a black man’s place in that fight to where he is in the fight today. Each performance works beautifully, from the underused Norm Lewis Isiah Whitlock, Jr, Clarke Peters, and Jonathan Majors to the outstanding Delroy Lindo, who goes right to the edge of a very difficult role and, never losing his balance, enlightens while he breaks our hearts.

There are some delicious nods to the iconic Apocalypse Now here, but this is a film that feels very much of the apocalypse that is happening right now, most notably a thread about Trump and a MAGA hat that feels even more of, I suppose, everything it intends to be as it makes its way through the Vietnam jungle. There are clips of inspiration, historical achievement and Marvin Gaye. I was so stirred by Chadwick Boseman’s speech to his men, upon learning of Martin Luther King Jr’s assassination, where he preaches “ain’t nobody gonna use our rage against us. We control our rage”. Let that, as the kids say, sink in.