Four Vietnam vets (Delroy Lindo, Norm Lewis, Clarke Peters, Isiah Whitlock, Jr.) return to Saigon; they intend to head out into the jungles and find the remains of a fallen friend… and a buried cache of gold bars. We’ve seen many movies about white Vietnam veterans, but this one highlights the African American experience; as expected, Spike Lee aims to educate, entertain, shock and move us. It’s a wild, uneven ride, with flashbacks to the war and lots of surprising action when the men begin their perilous journey into the jungle. Never dull, and it does feel very relevant for our times. Lindo stands out as the Trump-voting, PTSD-stricken Paul.
2020-U.S. Made for Streaming. 154 min. Color-B/W. Produced by Jon Kilik, Spike Lee, Beatriz Levin, Lloyd Levin. Directed by Spike Lee. Screenplay: Danny Bilson, Paul De Meo, Kevin Willmott, Spike Lee. Music: Terence Blanchard. Cast: Delroy Lindo (Paul), Jonathan Majors (David), Norm Lewis (Eddie), Clarke Peters, Isiah Whitlock, Jr., Chadwick Boseman… Mélanie Thierry, Jean Reno.
Last word: “Here’s the thing. I knew there was no way in hell I was going to get the budget that Martin Scorsese got [to de-age] De Niro, Pacino, and Pesci in ‘The Irishman’, and it was a lot of money. And I dislike when films get different actors to play younger versions of the main characters. Also, makeup or prosthetics would’ve melted in the 100-degree heat […] It just works. These guys are going back in time, but this is how they see themselves. We did research screenings, and no one made an issue of it. Hollywood doesn’t give audiences enough credit for their intelligence.” (Lee on the choice not to cast younger actors for the flashbacks, Vulture)