A sprawling, shaggy, thrilling, moving, very Spike Lee take on The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, Da 5 Bloods is a whole lot of movie, most of it very good indeed, all of it supremely entertaining. With Oscar allowing streaming-only movies this year thanks to You Know What, Delroy Lindo, who has collaborated with Lee for decades, has a very clear shot at a gold statue for his monumental portrayal of Paul, a very damaged Viet Nam vet who returns to Country with his ‘Bloods’ – his brothers in arms from the war – to recover a case of gold bars they buried there during their tour of duty. Riffing on the Bogart role from Madre, Paul is a fascinatingly complicated character, and Lindo pours a major career’s worth of craft into him, and with it a barrel of blood, sweat and tears.
Lee tosses other homages and references around gleefully (particularly to Apocalypse Now) as well as doubling down on some of his own stylistic extravagances, all of which work here tremendously. This is a film of massively bold swings, anchored by Terence Blanchard’s huge score, which echoes that of 25th Hour. In tone and temperament, the film reverberates with BlacKkKlansman, offeringhumour and the ‘good hang’ joys of a delightfully cohesive ensemble along with genre thrills, black history, socio-political critique and complex moral reckoning. It’s plainly the work of a middle-aged master, confident and bold, completely unafraid to take risks, answering to no-one. It’s a Spike Lee Joint, and it matters.