I am not he biggest fan of Spike Lee. I prefer his more Hollywood mainstream films, rather than his I have a message films. Da 5 Bloods is 100% one of those message films. But it’s a message he is hammering you over the head with in the most unsubtle way possible.
It almost feels like a high schooler that just found out about the Vietnam war and this is his essay about it.
This movie is so damn heavy handed, so preachy, so meandering, so slow and filled with so much filler, that you could make a whole entire movie using only the shit they should have cut.
This 2 and half hour runtime does not do this film any favors or go by with ease. You feel every second passing like Chinese water torture.
It takes an hour into the film until these grumpy old men even start their adventure. Before then it was just them bickering and reminiscing at a hotel. Not like their adventure is any different, since it’s basically the same conversation over and over again, but the location has changed. Oh and now they’re shuffling along at a snails pace.
The concept to Da 5 Bloods I thought had potential. Sure, it basically has the exact same plot as a previous Netflix film Triple Frontier, but I thought at least we might get something different if Spike Lee was behind it.
At least in Triple Frontier I wasn’t forced to look at a picture of a baby with its face blown off. Thanks, Spike Lee, you fucking asshole. It was like a driving test. You wanna learn how to drive? Well first you have to watch this safety driving video of dead people that didn’t wear a seat belt.
But here it was, you wanna watch my movie? Well, first you got to look at footage of real people getting executed, gutted and babies shot in the face.
Fuck right on off, Spike you overinflated egotistical bastard.
You aren’t that good of a writer, or a filmmaker, and with some of the lines in this, holyshit. How did this guy get an Oscar for best screenplay?
It doesn’t even stop with the dialogue, or the dead baby pics, but it extends to other facets, like the bizarre decision to not have younger actors play the soldiers in the flashback scenes. Instead, they still play themselves in the flashbacks.
So you have these 70 to 80 year old men with bad hips trying to do action sequences made for younger actors and it’s hilarious. Which I don’t believe was his intention. Spike Lee doesn’t seem to have much of a sense of humor, so I doubt it was intentional.
Just seeing them do flips with machine guns was enough to get a chuckle out of me.
Speaking of, maybe the only good thing I have to say about this film are the action sequences. It was strange, because it felt like Tarantino stepped in each time bullets started flying, just to show Spike Lee how it’s done.
It was such a bizarre contrast to the rest of the movie. It was like an amateur filmed a majority of the scenes, but then someone with actual talent took over briefly.
A majority of this movie are scenes of old folks sitting around talking in a hotel. About an hour in, they finally leave the hotel and venture outside to the jungle. But of course while they’re doing that they have to stop and take even more detours for characters to talk, buy chickens… Whatever they can to halt story flow.
I get it, they’re old. But does that mean your movie also has to shuffle around looking for its keys too? Hint, they’re in the fridge, grandpa!
At one point they run into a French landmine clearing team. I’m not really sure why they’re in this movie. Aside from the landmine field the Bloods run into later. But they don’t really do much with their expertise. They get someone off a landmine by pulling them off it. Yeah, real genius idea. I’m glad the landmine defusing team were there so they could stand around while these old dudes use rope to yank someone off of it.
It was like Spike Lee was too lazy to do any research. Excuse me, Mr. Lee. About this landmine scene, how do we get him off it safely?
I don’t know, just use a rope of something. I got to decide which dead baby picture to insert into my movie. Should I use the one without a face or the one with its guts hanging out? Who am I kidding, why decide when I can just use them both!
That isn’t the only lazy scene either, as later we are treated to a day for night scene. You might be asking, what’s that? Well, that’s when they shoot a scene during the day, but try to pass it off as a night scene. You want to know how you can tell it was day and they just added a filter?
It’s because the damn flashlight they’re shining on a map they’re looking over doesn’t shine, but is muted over, so it looks odd and bizarre. And fake.
Which reminds me, going back to the landmine scene, they needed to get a character to step on a mine and blow himself up. But it was clear they had no idea how to do this and also get in this really bad dialogue.
So what they did was just make it so when he talks he walks backwards, for no reason. People must have thought it was dumb, giving Spike a note. So to fix it, they just had a character lampshade it but addressing it directly. He walks backs when he talks!
Really? He’s been walking for the past 90 minutes and talking, not once has he ever done this. Plot contrivances! That should be the new name of this movie, Plot Contrivances: Da Movie!
Let’s go back… to Nam. Time to actually get into the plot of this… I want to say sequel to The Dependables?
A group of black soldiers, 5 in total, are tasked with rescuing this downed plane, with what turns out to be gold as its cargo.
The crash site for the plane however is set up as an ambush point by the enemy, taking out anyone who dares to rescue them. The Bloods crash, but manage to fight off the attack, discovering the gold, burying it and keeping it for themselves.
They always planned on coming back for it, but they could never find the location. That is until a mudslide revealed what they think might be the tail end of the crashed plane.
Now the 4 surviving members have gathered after all this time to not only collect their gold but to find the remains of their fellow fallen soldier, the leader of the Bloods, Stormin’ Norman, played by Black Panther himself Chadwick Boseman.
Honestly, this should have been the movie. Just these bad ass black Vietnam soldiers who find themselves with the moral quandary, what to do with all this gold.
Sure, it’s basically the plot to Three Kings, but I’d much rather watch that than Triple Frontier. God, even Da 5 Bloods ends the same way Triple Frontier did.
When it’s a flashback in Nam, the movie is about these black soldiers fighting for these peoples rights that they don’t even have back home. I even like a small scene in one of the flashbacks when the Bloods are sneaking around in the jungle and run into a troop of enemy soldiers. But they’re just chatting about normal things like an American soldier would. Then they get ambushed and gunned down.
It was a good scene.
But the flashback stuff only lasts for so long until we are back in the present and stuck with our main characters as they are now. Who are all horrible and I hate them.
The character I hated most was Delroy Lindo’s character Paul, this MAGA hat wearing asshole who I’m sure is just mentally unstable. The other Bloods do joke about him being the one black guy that always shows up at Trump’s Klan rallies.
Interesting fact about that guy, he used to belong to a real murder cult back in the 80’s I believe. But to join this cult, you needed to bring the leader a severed head, which about 5 of them actually did.
The guy who has now renamed the cult and is spearheading it was never charged with anything officially, but I mean he was a member, so… not to mention he seems batshit crazy if you’ve ever seen him interviewed.
I guess they do make Delroy Lindo’s character look a lot like him.
Anyway, right away you can tell he’ll be the one in the group that will lose it over the gold and most likely will turn on all of them at some point.
Another actor you might recognize is Isiah Whitlock Jr., who you’ll know immediately as the detective from The Wire that says SHIIIIIIIIT. And yes, he does give us his trademark long SHIIIIT in this too.
He plays Melvin, though I like to just pretend he’s still playing his character from The Wire.
Then there is Otis and Eddy.
Otis, also played by another Wire actor, had a fling with a prostitute in his younger days named Tien. She helps the Bloods get in contact with a French businessman named Desroche, played by Jean Reno, who I feel I haven’t seen in years.
He’s a bit of an asshole, but then again so is Paul, who can’t turn his dickheadedness down just a bit to make this deal happen.
They need him to basically launder their gold for them once they find it.
Here’s another issue I had with the story, the gold. The main reason we should get that they are down there is to find the body of their beloved friend. The gold thing should have been kept from us for as long as possible.
It would have made for an interesting twist. But nope, almost the first words out of their mouths is about getting their hands on that gold.
Anyway, the guys don’t exactly trust Tien, thinking maybe she’ll try setting them up. And of course Paul doesn’t trust anyone mainly because he’s a racist that hates everything and everyone.
He also has a son who has followed him to Vietnam to stop him from doing something crazy. That’s kind of another character I really didn’t see the point of.
He didn’t really serve much of a point to the story other than to bump their numbers back up to 5.
After they manage to shuffle their way to the spot they think the gold might be, they find it, pack it up and I guess now have to carry it all the way back to their meeting point.
But along the way they run into a mine field like I mentioned earlier, killing off Eddie. Not much to really say about Eddie’s character. He walks funny and is broke. That’s about it. He’s trying to ease the tensions with the group as they argue about the gold, who gets what share and what Stormin’ Norman would have wanted.
As he walks backwards as he talks, he steps on a mine and blows off his arms and legs. He’s still alive but we oddly never see him die. Mainly because right after he explodes, Paul’s son David also steps on a mine.
Now for plot contrivances, the landmine experts show up out of nowhere in the middle of the fucking jungle.
But instead of trying to defuse the mine or anything like that, Da Bloods just decide to tie some rope around him and yank him off. Which works, even though that’s not how mines or bombs work.
At this time Paul is in full on crazy mode, taking the landmine folks hostage. I’m not really sure why or what the plan is, but at gunpoint he forces them to go with them.
Eventually the other Bloods get the gun away from him and free the others. To keep their silence they are offered a cut of the gold.
When the group makes it back to their convoy, they are ambushed by locals who know about the gold and want it for themselves.
Finally at I think about the 90 minute mark we get something happening with these old folks. They have a giant gun fight and Paul’s son gets shot in the leg.
Having a full breakdown crazy MAGA hat wearing Paul runs off into the jungle where he is instantly caught and killed.
Now the other Bloods must take shelter in some old ruins, where they await the one behind all this, Desroche.
Another exciting gun battle breaks out, Melvin I think dies by jumping on a grenade and Paul’s son kills Desroche.
Later they divvy up the gold, give checks to the families of those who died and then credits. Thankfully no more dead babies popped up.
And That’s Da 5 Bloods. I hated this movie. It is going on my worst of 2020 list right next to Artemis Fowl and The Last Days of American Crime.
To me, this film felt lazy, preachy, poorly written, poorly directed and boring. So so boring. So of course it’s getting Oscar buzz because why not!
Da 5 Bloods is a SKIP IT, almost hindering on the rarely given AVOID AT ALL COSTS rating. Not even Cats got that.
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