Spike Lee directs Delroy Lindo, Clarke Peters and Isiah Whitlock Jnr. in this action drama where four Vietnam vets return to the former war zone in their old age to find a buried comrade and some hidden gold.
A brilliant ensemble with an Oscar worthy turn by Lindo. That’s the headline. The first hour of this is AAA-rating Lee. Verve, technical mastery, salty bonhomie, searing political commentary and a persuasive black history lesson. Some of his bravest storytelling gambles pay off (a very simplistic romance revived, having the pensioners play their youthful selves in the original conflict flashbacks) and the whole thing is motored by a combination of Marvin Gaye songs and fetishising ‘Nam cinema of the 80s. The moment the gold is discovered has a feel good beauty that matches Tuco running around the graveyard in The Good, The Bad and the Ugly but obviously these old boys are nowhere near as sprightly. Then everything grinds to a halt just as the action sharpens… sure, there are Mexican stand-offs, explosions and even Shakespearean soliloquies but the pace has terminally declined. Indulgence sets in, the flatter characters become more evident, we seem to be on hold when we should be in “the shit”. This is the best film Lee has made since Inside Man, his most potent since He Got Game but fuck me does it try the patience in the hodge pudge second half. A potential classic is relegated to flawed epic.
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