Da 5 Bloods ★★★★½

86

Da 5 Bloods is Spike Lee fully embracing his strengths as both an essayist and a pulp scavenger, finding form in adventure genre modes while taking to task a symbolic Vietnam space affected by American images, the threat of imperialism, and the dynamics of historical trauma. As much as this references Apocalypse Now (with a themed movie bar - the first of many acute details) and The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, Spike Lee paints an expansive, often imbalanced picture of tension between the oppressed and the oppressor, particularly under the lens of colonization. Shades of Sam Fuller too. The interplay between vivid memories of the immoral war and the ghostly agony of the present converge and clash in a multitude of fascinating ways, connected by the distinct lack of de-aging - a continuum of trauma, with the ultimate enemy found in government power and the racist police state. Spike Lee is eager to offer his thoughts as they are: complexities that can't be resolved when pitted against each other, placed in shifting aspect ratios and often liquefied montage. And of course, Delroy Lindo, what an essential performance. Everyone is great but he's the embodiment of Spike's anguish and empathy.