“Da 5 Bloods” (2020)

Available on Netflix

“Da 5 Bloods” is a film directed by Spike Lee, a director I’ve never really been a fan of and have really only watched one decent movie from him which was “BlacKkKlansman”. When I saw Netflix advertising the living heck out of this movie I knew it would be hard to avoid it. Having “BlacKkKlansman” being his most recent film and pretty good I thought I would give it a chance. I hated this movie. In fact it is probably one of my least favorite movies that I’ve watched this year. Before I have a ton of people calling me racist, maybe try looking at the movie from a much more objective view.

Why this movie was awful

Themes and Story

First off, I will admit that this concept is actually really interesting. Learning that a lot of African Americans had to be put in the front lines during the Vietnam war was actually pretty upsetting and I would have enjoyed getting to explore this subject a lot more. There was a very sad moment that actually hit me quite a bit and it was around the time that Martin Luther King Jr. was announced to be dead over the radio. It made it even more sad because that scene could have been so much more. The characters could have been a lot better showing their emotion, the radio lady took me out of the movie as well, and the resolution in this scene was a little too cheesy for my taste. A big theme that I usually see in Spike Lee’s movies is how African Americans struggle and are constantly oppressed by the U.S. In this movie that theme is present but it’s so pandering. There was a point in the beginning where they are showing a flashback of our main characters going through a helicopter crash and only one person dies. This person was white and I wasn’t going to think too much of it until the frame has a close up on the only white person on that helicopter being dead and immediately goes back to the main characters who seem to ignore this event. I actually rolled my eyes during that part. The very few other white characters were also extremely 1 dimensional only being: 2 cliche American hating villains, 1 comedic relief, and 1 love interest. That is all. When you want to present a theme like black oppression it would make more sense to give the only white people more depth. Maybe if the racism of the villains was a lot more subtle, I could relate a lot more. Because even though there are a decent amount of people who are openly racist, the majority of racist people don’t really make it so obvious. Comparing it to “Parasite”, a film that doesn’t deal with the same issue in this movie but tackles complicated social class issues, the rich people are never really seen to be cliche awful people. They have flaws and are definitely sheltered from any inconveniences because of their privileges but they are still seen as human beings which adds to how believable the movie is. But when you pander, give no depth to any character, or present a certain race as one dimensional characters, it makes the theme a lot weaker to me. To add on to this, I don’t think Spike Lee has any idea what subtlety is. I’m not saying that every movie has to be deep or be extremely artsy or complicated but everything is extremely on the nose. For a movie that was supposed to be tackling a lot of difficult issues, it presented every issue on such a surface level. Not to mention that this movie had no idea what it wanted to be. Sometimes it wants to be a heartwarming friendship adventure, sometimes it wants to be a period piece, sometimes it wanted to be a war movie, and other times it wanted to have like this found footage documentary style. It failed at all of those things. I could go on and on about how bad Spike Lee handled this premise and themes but I think my point was made.

Cinematography

I was actually surprised that this TWO AND A HALF HOUR LONG MOVIE did not have a single good shot or scene to me. At least nothing caught my eye. There was a thing the movie did where it changed the filter of the scene to show the viewer when it was the past and present and it was pretty awkward. Usually there would be an abrupt cut between time periods and it gave me a vibe that this film might have been rushed. The cuts were also sloppy and made it pretty irritating to watch in every scene. There were points in the movie where the past period filter was being incorporated for the present and I want to say that this was a way to show how both timelines were becoming intertwined and possibly even foreshadowing about future events to come. However, even that came off very sloppy and the transitions between time periods were also messy.

Acting

Not a single character seemed convincing to me in this movie. I mentioned before that all of the white people were portrayed as one dimensional, but even the main characters were one dimensional. There was a comic relief, an uptight guy, a crazy guy, a money hungry guy, and caring son. For the whole movie, the main characters will consistently be these roles and have the minimum amount of character development. So I guess I can blame this more on the script and the director since actors are only told how to act and it is up to the director to make sure the actors get the proper emotions across. However, that doesn’t take away from the fact that these actors can not show emotion and when they do it comes off either under acted or over acted.

My Rating: 2/10 (solely because the idea was actually pretty great)

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