Mike’s review published on Letterboxd:
An absolutely stunning film from a director who’s having a major career high right now. Spike Lee displays here that he’s a master of the craft, creating what is technically a war film, while still delivering hard hitting commentary on race in America.
The performances here are absolutely stellar, and without great performances this film would’ve faltered. The chemistry between the Bloods is conveys a shared sense of brotherhood, yet there’s tension between each one of them. The best performance in this film was that of Delroy Lindo, delivering a truly heartbreaking performance. He honestly makes the whole movie for me, his character is so central to the overall meaning of the film, and his performance just perfectly captures that pain.
Spike Lee once again displays how he’s one of the greatest working filmmakers of today, capturing this beautiful yet hellish landscape. I really liked the creative directions taken, such as having the older actors portraying their younger selves while still appearing as older men. Decisions like that add more weight to the story and it’s meaning, especially when you see the events unfurl. I also adored Newton Thomas Sigel’s cinematography, as it covered the lush landscape really well. The aspect ratio changes also benefitted the film, and I thought that they were done in a creative way, that also didn’t distract me from the film.
This is somewhat of a difficult film to process, as it presents so many concepts to the viewer. Not only is it an exploration on the ramifications of war, it’s also a commentary on race in America, especially that of African-American soldiers fighting in American wars when they didn’t have equal rights back home. It’s especially relevant now seeing what’s happening all over America. I know that the timing of the release of this film was purely coincidental, but it came at the right time, and adds fuel to the ongoing events that are currently happening.
Plain and simple, this is a masterpiece. Not only is this an incredible Vietnam War film (perhaps the best since Apocalypse Now), but it’s a great character study, as well as a thought provoking social commentary. This is Spike Lee at the top of his game, and I still think that he can top this in some way shape or form.