June 2020 – “It’s hard to imagine a more resonant movie for this moment”

Writes Peter Debruge about Da 5 Bloods

Jocelyn Noveck …

An exquisite sense of timing. Yes, Spike Lee has always had good timing. But it’s never been more evident or important than with the release of this film amid the current national reckoning over racial justice and police brutality.

“Time has come today,” goes the Chamber Brothers song that accompanies Lee’s trailer. And: “Can’t put it off another day.”

Indeed. You’ll find yourself awed by Lee’s prescience only moments into the film, with a searing montage of archival footage setting the Vietnam War, and most importantly the experience of black soldiers in that war, into political and social context.

Activist Bobby Seale, in one 1968 clip, recalls how blacks served in the Civil War and then World War II, with freedom still elusive, “and now here we go with the damn Vietnam War and we still ain’t getting nothing but racist police brutality, et cetera.”


Entertainment journalists have taken to describing “Da 5 Bloods” as “timely” because its release coincides with the nationwide protests that spontaneously arose following the murder of George Floyd.

That is true, but let’s be clear: Lee has always been ahead-of-his-timely. He reminded us of that a week ago with his new “3 Brothers” video, which identifies the horrifying pattern connecting the murder of Radio Raheem in 1989’s “Do the Right Thing” to the more recent choking deaths of Floyd and Eric Garner. “Will History Stop Repeating Itself?” the short film implores. And now, “Da 5 Bloods” — which the Cannes Film Festival reportedly intended to screen out of competition — marks another bold salvo from an artist committed to delivering political statements through popular entertainment.

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