Above all, this Netflix appearance provides a powerful showing for its 60-year-old stars, featuring Delroy Lindo (in his fourth Lee movie), “The Wire’s” Clarke Peters and Isiah Whitlock Jr. , And Norm Lewis as African American quartet veterans who made the return trip to Vietnam, decades later. They are ostensibly looking for the remains of a fallen companion (Chadwick Buseman, in Flashback), but there is another more practical prize: a brick of gold, hidden at the time of his death.
The film (which works for more than two and a half hours) opens up with a montage that sets the historical foundation, from the 1960s to the present day. In fact, Paul Lindo terrifies his peers by wearing a “MAGA” hat, which results in one of the many observations about the current president.
It is noteworthy that the African American soldiers fought and died for a country that did not keep its promise to them at home. This reinforces different ideas about what to do with a buried treasure – then, a tedious journey to find it.
Not surprisingly, this quest is not going smoothly, as it collides with numerous obstacles and roadblocks along the way. It includes a certain kind of madness caused by the prospect of riches, in an explicit gesture to the “Sierra Madre treasure” – Lindo is essentially the character of Bogart – despite various classics, including “End of the World Now” and “Bridge over the River Kwai,” all One takes his turn.
Lee has a way to manipulate multiple ideas within his films, but to use the metaphor of war, he fights on many fronts – trying to serve the story and sub-plots while working to clarify the historical context. This includes not only the stories of these soldiers, but the morals of war, their impact on the Vietnamese people, and the injustice that African Americans faced at home, at that time and now.
The movie’s sweep was impressive but would have benefited from a tighter story. However, some of the sequences hit with intense power, most notably Lindo, who at one time performed a fixed monologue directly to the camera as he walked through the woods.
Abstract to its essence, “Da 5 Bloods” provides a stark reminder of how problems that have appeared in the public arena in recent weeks have exploded and periodically exploded, a byproduct of not being bypassed and not addressed for decades.
It’s another timely message, sparking reflection from a filmmaker known to them, in a movie that piles up so much on its plate that it doesn’t live up to my best.
“Da 5 Bloods” premiered on June 12 on Netflix. Rated R.