“Da 5 Bloods” (Netflix)
Rich but harrowing drama in which a quartet of veterans (Delroy Lindo, Clarke Peters, Norm Lewis and Isiah Whitlock Jr.) who formed a deep bond during their service in Vietnam return there, partly to retrieve the body of a fallen comrade (Chadwick Boseman) they revered as a mentor but also to recover a cache of CIA gold they discovered after coming across a downed American aircraft during the conflict. Their journey through the jungle becomes both a nightmare and a springboard for director and co-writer Spike Lee’s far-ranging reflections on race relations, politics, faith and the corrupting effects of greed.
Lee’s creative daring as his film reaches its climax combines with a wrenching performance from Lindo to deliver a searing emotional payoff. Yet to reach it, viewers have to endure incidents of shocking mayhem as well as a heavy-handed effort, early on, to give them a crash course in African American history. Still, though the movie, with its echoes of Francis Ford Coppola’s 1979 epic “Apocalypse Now,” has a great deal of darkness, it also, ultimately, has heart.
Much bloody violence, including some extreme gore, gruesome images, many profane expressions, about a dozen milder oaths, pervasive rough and crude language, mature references to sexuality and to an out-of-wedlock birth. The Catholic News Service classification is L — limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Motion Picture Association rating is R — restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.