Da 5 Bloods

Critics Consensus

Fierce energy and ambition course through Da 5 Bloods, coming together to fuel one of Spike Lee's most urgent and impactful films.

92%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 266

53%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 1,637

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Movie Info

From Academy Award Winner Spike Lee comes a New Joint: the story of four African-American Vets -- Paul (Delroy Lindo), Otis (Clarke Peters), Eddie (Norm Lewis), and Melvin (Isiah Whitlock, Jr.) -- who return to Vietnam. Searching for the remains of their fallen Squad Leader (Chadwick Boseman) and the promise of buried treasure, our heroes, joined by Paul's concerned son (Jonathan Majors), battle forces of Man and Nature -- while confronted by the lasting ravages of The Immorality of The Vietnam War.

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Critic Reviews for Da 5 Bloods

All Critics (266) | Top Critics (43) | Fresh (245) | Rotten (21)

  • This everything-but-the-kitchen-sink approach can be his strength, but while Da Five Bloods doesn't entirely lack heat, it never really gets cooking.

    June 17, 2020 | Rating: 2.5/5 | Full Review…
  • Da 5 Bloods is the first movie I've seen since lockdown began that made me yearn to be in a packed cinema.

    June 16, 2020 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…
  • Is Lee preaching to the choir? Perhaps but those not already in the fold who give the film a chance may discover that the things Lee is saying are hard to disagree with regardless of your race, creed, or color.

    June 15, 2020 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • Foremost among its accomplishments is the confident ease with which it traverses many shades of human experience... Lee does this by skillfully fading discrete genres into each other over the course of its two hour and 35 minute runtime.

    June 15, 2020 | Full Review…
  • "Da 5 Bloods" runs two hours and thirty-four minutes, but it's not a second too long. On the contrary, it feels compressed, bustling, and frenzied with its intellectual and dramatic energy.

    June 15, 2020 | Full Review…
  • Lee's latest is a crackerjack drama, directed by a filmmaker who remains in total control of his once-in-a-generation gifts and utilizes them to synthesize story and history into something new.

    June 13, 2020 | Rating: A- | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Da 5 Bloods

  • Jul 24, 2020
    One of Lee's great talents is his ability to move with ease between different genres, sometimes even in the same movie. Delroy Lindo gives a towering performance here. He's always been great but Lee affords him the perfect vehicle for his considerable talents.
    Alec B Super Reviewer
  • Jun 30, 2020
    Given the current political climate, there might not be a better filmmaker to seize the moment than Spike Lee. The controversial director has been making controversial, thought-provoking, inflammatory movies for over 30 years, and after the Oscar-winning success of 2018's excellent BlackkKlansman, he's on an artistic resurgence not seen since the early 2000s (please watch 2000's Bamboozled, an underrated media satire that's only gotten more relevant). In comes Netflix and their deep pockets and wide creative latitude for filmmakers and the result is Da 5 Bloods, a stirring movie that seems like a modern Kelly's Heroes but becomes so much more. "Da 5 Bloods" is the nickname for a group of Vietnam War vets, all African-American. Paul (Delroy Lindo), Otis (Clarke Peters), Eddie (Norm Lewis), and Melvin (Isiah Whitlock Jr.) venture back to Vietnam to discover a cache of gold bars they had hidden in 1971 as G.I.s. They're also going to bring back the remains of their fallen leader, Stormin' Norman (Chadwick Boseman), who died after they struck literal gold. The land has changed in the ensuing decades, with American culture finding its complacent commercial footing (a dance hall has an "Apocalypse Now" party presented by Budweiser), but then the men have also changed. Paul has brought along his adult son, David (Jonathan Majors, The Last Black Man in San Francisco), in an attempt to better understand one another and bridge their divide. When the multi-generational Bloods go for their buried treasure, it becomes a question over how far they will all go to get out of Vietnam rich. Lee's commentary on art, war, and the commoditization of history happens early and with great deliberation. The most notable choice is how the flashbacks back to the group's Vietnam experiences are portrayed. The aspect ratio squeezes to 4:3, akin to news footage or home movies over these memories, but Lee's stylistic vision goes further. You'll notice very early into the flashbacks that they take on a sort of heightened quality, coming across more like a movie version of the Vietnam War than the real experiences. The guys complain about the Rambo movies and then these flashbacks feel like their own Rambo rendition. The editing is quick, the shots are tight, and the boys are bursting with bravado, none more so than Stormin' Norman, their celebrated friend who they believed was the best of them, and he's played by a big-time movie star and a real black superhero of popular culture. The flashbacks take on an unreliable quality, exaggerated and fed by the bombastic war depictions of popular culture. This is later proven correct with a late personal reveal. The sequences feel more like preferential memories, and this is exemplified by the choice to have all the older actors play themselves in the flashbacks. It takes a little mental adjustment but I enjoyed the choice. It added to that surreal quality that made the scenes more worthy of analytical unpacking. It also gave our established characters more to do as they are slipping into their literal flashbacks coming back to Vietnam. Gratefully, Lee has also forgone any de-aging CGI spackle over his actors' faces. Consider this the anti-Irishman, and it didn't take me out of the movie at any point. I appreciated the choices. The movie is about war and its representations in movies, as evidenced from those flashbacks, and then Da 5 Bloods becomes its own war movie. When the violence happens for real, it's played differently than how it appears through the gung-hp flashbacks. It's grislier, uglier, and hits you in the stomach. It's not the rah-rah moments to celebrate in jingoistic fashion. As the Bloods get closer to their gold, the movie transforms into its own hybrid of Treasure of the Sierra Madre and pushes the characters to reconcile how far they will go to keep their secret. This pushes some characters to challenge others on a shifting plane of morality, and you never really get a sense of what might just happen next. When a French woman was talking about visiting Vietnam with the purpose of finding and detonating leftover landmines from the war, I knew it was only a matter of time before this scenario resurfaced with a vengeance. When the Bloods are exploring a hillside with a metal detector, I kept wincing, waiting for an eventual click and an explosion. There is a taut rescue sequence that also taps into a relationship showcase for two characters. That's the greatness of what Lee has done here, because on top of mixing genres and tones and political commentary, he also makes sure that the action, the real action, actually means something. The last act of the movie is a big standoff with genuine stakes, and while it serves as a fun example of our older underdogs more than holding their own, it gets into the major theme of legacy. What will be these men's legacy? What will the legacy be for a son who has never felt close to his father? What about a daughter who never knew her father? What will last beyond these men? The legacy of Stormin' Norman informs and haunts the other Bloods; Paul practically breaks into tears confessing that he sees Norman's ghost on a near daily basis. They all feel guilt over being unable to save Norman but also being unable to bring his remains home until now. Going back is not just about financial windfalls, it's also about making good on a delayed promise. Talking about what the men will do with their shares of the loot allows each to fantasize about a more perfect life ahead, while at the same time coming to terms with their life's regrets. This is where Eddie gets his most potent opportunity to stand out. The character too often just feels present rather than integrated in the narrative, but here he opens up about how his life might not be as perfect as his friends tease him about. Inherent in this ongoing discussion is the notion of what does sacrifice mean and for whom. Lee repeatedly threads historical footnotes of African-Americans being shortchanged after serving their country in wartime. Even though only making up ten percent of the U.S. population during Vietnam, black soldiers made up over 30% of the grunts on the ground. Paul says, "We fought in an immoral war that wasn't ours for rights we didn't have." The Bloods view this gold as their long overdue reparations for being black in a racist country. However, it's Eddie who won't allow the Bloods to merely deal in grievance. He cites Stormin' Norman and how they can improve the lives of the next generation even at their own expense. Even as the gunfire picks up and we have a misplaced mustache-twirling villain (Jean Reno), Da 5 Bloods is an action flick that has much more on its mind, looking to the past, present, and a better future. This is a compelling ensemble tale but Da 5 Bloods is clearly Lindo's movie. Lindo has been a hard-working actor for decades, with roles in Get Shorty, The Core, Gone in 60 Seconds, The Good Fight, and a bevy of Lee's films (er, "joints") like Crooklyn, Clockers, and Malcolm X. But it's the role of Paul that will serve as the actor's finest career performance. There is so much pain and anger coursing under the surface with this character. Paul wears a red MAGA hat in proud defiance and to the jeers of his pals. Paul is a Trump voter who wanted to shake up the system, the same system that had let him down for his life. He's haunted by his past, and even decades later, he can admit returning to the jungles is still affecting him. The gold represents something elemental, mythical to him, a lifetime-defining event that he needs to accomplish. As this zeal overtakes him, Lindo unleashes spellbinding monologues looking directly into Lee's camera as he marches along, narrating his stormy inner thoughts, and trying to assess the contradictions of his life. Lindo doesn't just play Paul as a hardass grumpy old man. He's still reeling, from service, from fatherhood, from the decades having vanished, and from the setbacks to retrieve the gold. Paul's odyssey takes on a religious passion play that builds him into a symbol of America's unmet promises and fallibility. Even in uncertain COVID-19 times, I'd be shocked if Lindo isn't nominated for an Oscar. Netflix's Da 5 Bloods is a great movie and invigorating reaffirmation that when Spike Lee really gives a damn he is one of our most essential filmmakers, even after 30-plus years in the director's chair. The movie is packed with rich detail and character moments, little things to keep you thinking, and a blending of tones and texts that invites further analytical examination. At its core, it's a story of friendship and legacy, and the actors are a great pleasure to watch grouse and weep and laugh together. Even at a taxing 154 minutes, I was happy to spend the extra minutes with these men and better understand them and their pain and their relationships. Even though the movie delves in loss and grievance, I found it to be ultimately hopeful and galvanizing. Something as simple as a hand-written letter can turn out to be more restorative than millions in gold bars. Nate's Grade: A-
    Nate Z Super Reviewer
  • Jun 18, 2020
    When it comes to Spike Lee films, I've now come to expect a film that's at least good. Do the Right Thing is one of my favourite films of all time and BlacKkKlansman easily made my Top 10 list of 2018. It's very clear when you're watching a Spike Lee joint (as he likes to call them). Da 5 Bloods is his most recent directorial outing and streaming seems to be the saving grace for a lot of movies this year. Netflix has recently released it for all subscribers to view, and although a lot of the subject matter may be a lot to take in, I believe, especially due to the timing of the release and how it relates to society today, it is an essential piece of filmmaking. After losing one of their own in war, four American veterans return to where they lost him in order to uncover his body, as well as try to find the gold that they hid away. After this film sets the overall story in motion, it becomes a long, slow journey from beginning to end, but it's very much worth the investment. Becoming close with what seems to be new allies, a new plot begins to unfold, adding a huge layer of reality to the movie as a whole. It was very hard not to compare the notions throughout this film to that of the ones we're dealing with today, and for that reason alone, I believe this film is even more impactful than it already was upon completion. This film begins with real images and footage that are incredibly impactful and eye-opening. Throughout the movie, real images are cut to in order to exploit the harsh realities of certain things. That small aspect of the movie alone will be too much for some to handle. There are some horrific images that are not recreated for the movie, but rather just blatantly displayed on-screen, conveying some of the most emotional messages I've seen in a film in quite some time. On top of that, this movie relies heavily on the characters at the forefront of the story and if you don't buy their chemistry and their history together, this movie would've been a mess. Thankfully, there are some award-worthy performances here from everyone involved. In particular, as most viewers have been proclaiming, Delroy Lindo as Paul delivers one of the very best performances I've seen in a while. His screen presence here is electric and if any of the awards shows were coming soon, I could even make the argument that he deserves to win. He truly brings his A-Game here and I've never seen him better. Granted, this is the most acting I've ever seen from him, so it left quite an impression on me. In addition, Isiah Whitlock Jr., Norm Lewis, Clarke Peters, and the eventual joining of Jonathan Majors, all played off each other as if they were real-life friends. The acting in this film is off the charts. Written by Danny Bilson, Kevin Willmott, Spike Lee, and Paul De Meo, it was very clear that this was a collaborative effort. This film came from the heart and I was most surprised to see Paul De Meo's name attached. He's had his hand in writing video games in recent years, but in terms of feature films, his last notable screenplay was for The Rocketeer in 1991. I really hope to see him return to feature film screenplays in the future. From the way each character interacts with each other to the long monologues given (particularly by Lindo), this movie had me glued to the screen. In the end, Da 5 Bloods is an eye-opening film, to say the least. The story itself is very telling in its own right, but when you compare certain elements to our daily lives, this can be a huge lesson for some viewers. As I said, certain imagery will be too much for viewers to take in, so be wary if you're either squeamish or know that certain things will be stuck in your mind forever. Filled with a stellar cast, backed by superb direction, and written with a lot of care, Da 5 Bloods is a must-see. It's now streaming on Netflix and I highly recommend checking it out. It's also quite possibly the best movie that will be released for a while as well.
    KJ P Super Reviewer

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