A group of Vietnam veterans (Bloods) go back to the jungle to retrieve a cargo of gold, that they had secured during the Vietnam war. They are also there to retrieve the remaining of Norman, a lost member of the Bloods, to give him a proper resting place back home. Conflict arises when a group of Vietnamese gunmen find out about the gold.
The fact that i can write the synopsis without the word “racism” bothers me. It feels like Spike Lee’s social commentary was added in, after the script was already written. This doesn’t make the commentary less true, it just feels less connected to the narrative and the central conflict. It feels like the social commentary can be stripped from the movie and you would still have a simple action story that works. About Vietnam veterans going years later back to the “dangerous” jungles of Vietnam. That said I think it’s an important message and something that is not talked about a lot, I myself was not aware of the racism that took place during the Vietnam war. Racism, a problem that is still present all over the world and especially in the USA. I just wished the movie showed more of the racial inequalities during the Vietnam war, instead of only talking about them.
Spike Lee is not someone who shies away of making his point clear and being direct. One example of this is the real life imagery of the Vietnam war, this made me think. Is it morally wrong to use real imagery of the war, in a film that is more concerned with telling a generic action story instead of telling a realistic story. A realistic story about the horrible things that happened there and the innocent lives that were lost. To be clear, I have no problems with graphical imagery as long as it serves a purpose, like in a documentary. Here the imagery only seems to function as shock value, it has no function in the overall narrative. It is not connected to the central conflict in any way. We don’t get context so it’s not really informative. Where “Do The Right Things” felt like one coherent movie because its themes and social commentary were concerning the central conflict of the movie and the final choice of the protagonist, this just feels like an action movie with an important message slapped on. This “action movie” feeling is most apprehend in the final shootout scene, it felt a bit over the top for a movie that was trying to say important things. Why is the conflict of the movie, that has a message of anti-violence, resolved with violence. This movie could have said so much more.
The movie is technically good. I enjoyed the different aspect ratios for different time periods. I enjoyed the cinematography overall. Acting, editing, sound and mise-en-scène were good, but nothing really standing out. I enjoyed the movie overall, but i wouldn’t call it Spike Lee’s best.
P.S: It helped me rediscover the brilliance of Marvin Gaye’s album “What’s Going On