Rosa Parks protested by refusing to give up a seat on the bus, even if it meant going to prison. Harriet Tubman helped slaves evacuate their poor predicaments through the underground railroad. Oprah Winfrey is a role model for women of all colors everywhere. Barack Obama made history in the White House. Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream, and he’s yet to see it come true. It’s frustrating I know to see how right now it feels like nothing has changed even after all we went through.
Between all the riots, protests, the pandemic, and political strife, 2020 is indeed a real hell hole of a year. If we need anything right now, it’s a direct-to-streaming movie like Da 5 Bloods, a movie from a filmmaking legend that puts us back on the right path.
As this feature goes on, it always keeps you on the edge of your seat, especially when the film turns grainy and the color grading turns ashen to make you feel like death is fast approaching. Such subtle techniques are there to make you feel like what Jesus felt when carrying his cross. To top it off, the timing of a pressure plate scene is so shocking and gruesome that the horror which happens immediately after connects to the pressure against Black men today.
Spike Lee understands the subject he’s tackling and why it’s relevant, knowledge that he proves in subtle, creative ways, such as including a caption that says “Da White House” for the footage of Nixon’s resignation speech, or giving Trump the nickname, “Fake Bone Spurs.” It’s a haunting way of connecting the past to the present in how the nation’s treatment against the Black community really hasn’t improved much, to the point those victims can’t even take a step forward without being blown by a bomb.
As for the masterful worldbuilding elements, a snake getting decapitated foreshadows an important event later that could tear apart these “Five Bloods.” It serves as a sign of closure to the numerous historical photographs edited in, including video footage of the 1960s and 1970s to show what it was like for Blacks in society. Though even out of society, the leaves in the Vietnam jungle are all eaten by caterpillars to suggest the Bloods having to trek through a world where everything wants to take away their shade.
It makes for strong use of sun beaming from behind to represent the war that will last as long as there’s misbalance between hope and judgment. But before this film can get to any of the judgment parts, the beginning gives a warm, comforting introduction when the men of focus all reunite. In that way, you’re focused on the highs of the relationship, not the lows of what’s happening outside their relationship, and it’s balanced out well by the stunning views of Vietnam that make you want to travel there.
It results in a truthful recreation of our reality based on the concept of law, and makes for an ending with a very direct pro-Black-Lives-Matter motivational scene that works even with Adam Gough’s (Children of Men, Roma) mediocre editing job. Yes, unfortunately, in Gough’s work here, actions happen twice between shots many times throughout the whole film; it could be intentional, but I honestly don’t think so, even if it were intentional it distracts from the main focus.
But that’s a minor complaint, looking elsewhere for powerful qualities you’ll never forget watching, there is a huge character moment with a desperate chicken salesman that tells how every single character must come to grips about the reality that a war never really ends. Their attempts at playing chicken almost seem like they’re fleeing the ruler of the States, even when a maroon “Make America Great Again” cap floats among their possession.
That one prop is heavily symbolic for the state of these men when someone dies, how they struggle to continue the war of the deceased that continues even through others. That sense of sacrifice and diligence will extinguish the wars that will not stop, by watching these five Bloods put into action the words of Paul the Apostle: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28)
Though the best thing about the film is the acting; Delroy Lindo seems to monologue right at us in a way that commands your attention, given the context of his character’s condition in that scene. It works especially because the script takes its time in introducing characters, so we first know their bloodline before getting to know them. For example, a White character is introduced with his cigarette being lit before looking back at his full face.
Likewise, Jonathan Majors gives a career-best performance as he conveys through the eyes his character’s attempts to reach his companions’ level of manliness. His performance is helped by the strong composition of actors used to point out which ones are truly in touch with Black history. And finally, although brief, Chadwick Boseman proves that he can act his real heart out. After phoning it in as Black Panther, now he proves his skill with a voice that sounds like the true soul of Blackness.
Well, that’s all that needs to be said about Da 5 Bloods. There’s nothing more to say. So now, with the completeness of Spike Lee’s passion project, we can come together to stop WWIII from someday ever becoming a reality.
If there is a specific movie you’d like to see graded, or if you are interested in guest blogging for my site, please email me at Trevor@TrevorsViewOnHollywood.com for your recommendations.
Have a great weekend, and happy watching!
Da 5 Bloods. Netflix. Web. <https://www.netflix.com/title/81045635>.
Gupta, Shubhra. “Da 5 Bloods is streaming on Netflix. (Photo: DAVID LEE/NETFLIX © 2020).” Digital image. The Indian Express. WordPress, 12 Jun 2020. Web. <https://indianexpress.com/article/entertainment/movie-review/da-5-bloods-movie-review-spike-lee-6456061/>.