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10 reviews, 102 user ratings

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25th Hour
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by EricDSnider

"A Lee joint that works, and is almost great."
4 stars

Spike Lee's "25th Hour" is in some ways a thrilling departure for the director, and in other ways a predictable, tired adherence to the quirks that have marked his previous work.

It is only the second time, after "Clockers" (1995), that Lee has directed a fictional film based on a book, and one of only a few times that he has not written the screenplay himself (or at least had a hand in it). The novel, by David Benioff (who did the adaptation, too), is set in New York but otherwise has little in common with the themes and characters that have inhabited most of Lee's films. Race relations are not an issue here, and nearly all of the characters are white.

Thus, there is a certain curiosity in seeing what a talented director will do when he steps outside of what he has heretofore focused on. "25th Hour" confirms that Lee has a remarkably keen sense of cinematic style, that in many ways he can compete with heavyweights like Scorsese and Spielberg, and that like most great directors, he has a knack for screwing up his own work.

The story is of Monty Brogan (Edward Norton), a drug dealer who has been nabbed by the DEA and has 24 hours before reporting to prison for a seven-year term. Within that day, which he treats as though it were the last day of his life, he must say farewell to friends and endure a massive going-away party at a nightclub where he is a celebrated patron. He is plagued by the possibility that his girlfriend, Naturelle (Rosario Dawson), is the one who turned him in. Monty Brogan is a tortured soul.

His best friends are Jakob (Philip Seymour Hoffman), a depressed schoolteacher, and Francis (Barry Pepper), a hot-shot investment banker. They support Monty, though they privately suspect he's getting what he deserves; Monty appreciates them, though he secretly wonders if as friends they ought to have done more to prevent him from ruining his life.

"25th Hour" has a startlingly real and palpable sense of gloom about it. Norton's devastating depiction of Monty's regret, anger and sadness force us to reflect on what we would do in that situation. He could run, of course, and his father (Brian Cox) even suggests it, though it would mean he could never set foot in New York again lest he be caught.

Norton's most shining moment as Monty is a lengthy diatribe in a mirror in which he rails against every group in New York: blacks, cops, gays, Asians, Osama bin Laden, everyone, on and on for what seems like several minutes, each slur more passionate than the last. It's a fantastic scene, reminiscent of similar talk-to-the-camera moments in "Do the Right Thing" (1989), but more inflammatory.

Somewhat less effective is the subplot involving Jakob's attraction to one of his students, the vixenish Mary (Anna Paquin). Amidst the drama and introspection, this small matter seems lightweight. In the novel, it adds to the idea that this is the long, dark night of everyone's soul, not just Monty's; in the film, though, it seems irrelevant.

And then there is the film's biggest mistake, the one that reminds us most of Lee's fallibility: The film insists on wedging post-9/11 references into the story. Jakob and Francis have a lengthy conversation in Francis' apartment, which overlooks Ground Zero. Lee's audacity for filming at such a location is admirable; indeed, "25th Hour" will go down as the first major film to address and deal with Sept. 11. But it's as though the hope of earning that footnote-worthy distinction was Lee's only reason for doing it. The story itself, written in 2000, doesn't need the 9/11 baggage, and every time it pops up in the film, it stands out like a sore thumb, like something that clearly was never intended to be part of the drama.

It is worth noting that, aside from those insertions, the film is virtually free of Lee's usual bombast and political activism. The characters actually seem to live and breathe, rather than being made-up figures blasted onto the screen. Frequent Lee collaborators Barry Alexander Brown (editor) and Terence Blanchard (music) contribute as well, with Blanchard's sweetly melancholic score being particularly useful in the film's operatic final sequence.

Some do not like the film's (and the book's) ambiguous ending, and I disagree with casting Edward Norton, as good as he is, as a character whose main reason for wanting to avoid prison is that he's "too pretty" to survive there. (Norton is good-looking, but would you ever call him a "pretty boy"?) It is hard to argue against a film as well-acted and sensibly assembled as this one, though. It demonstrates maturity on the part of the director, even if that maturity is tempered with the occasional bursts of vainglorious grandstanding.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=6463&reviewer=247
originally posted: 01/26/03 16:18:58
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User Comments

2/16/18 Jim Kerr Spike Lee way overrated. Great actors lousy plot poor character development. 1 stars
9/13/17 morris campbell a potent look at a mans last days of freedom 4 stars
6/13/12 tommy yes spike lee's masterpiece.....one of many... 5 stars
3/02/11 chris c A somber look at a man's last days of freedom shadowed by the tragedy of 9/11 5 stars
2/02/11 isaiah one of my three favorite movies 5 stars
12/20/08 Tony Transformed the way I look at justice and redemption. 5 stars
8/29/08 Shaun Wallner This ones ok. 3 stars
5/19/08 jointz Ed Norton transcends being just an actor in 25th Hour. Spike really outdid himself! 5 stars
3/10/08 Leumas Spectacular 5 stars
3/02/08 ladavies I could watch this movie over and over again...and have. 5 stars
10/23/07 lee Hanson What a powerful film. It is flawless from beginning to end. 5 stars
6/10/07 fools♫gold I related to everyone but Norton's character until the beautiful end. 5 stars
5/30/07 ES alright, not much there 3 stars
10/20/06 Billychic Loved the movie - however, I'm still trying to figure out the ending... 4 stars
8/29/06 scott amazing movie, emotion packed, interesting 4 stars
3/27/06 john martin one of the best american movies 5 stars
8/07/05 E This confusing, plot-less piece of crap is overrated 2 stars
8/05/05 Naruto COMPLETE NONSENSE!!! The reviewers are mad 1 stars
7/09/05 Moctezuma A long, dull, and uninteresting movie 2 stars
6/12/05 Hack-SAW The rating says it all... 5 stars
6/08/05 Agent Sands Possibly Spike Lee's very best movie next to Do the Right Thing. 5 stars
5/10/05 Simon A movie as carried by its fantastic cast-performances as any. Powerful. 5 stars
2/06/05 bodi Najlepszy fim jaki iwdzialem 5 stars
12/20/04 DM Powerful, but Lee gets caught up in his own excesses 4 stars
10/29/04 payvand one of my all-time favorites, unbelievable monologues, unbelievable performance by norton! 5 stars
10/13/04 Steve Newman 30 minutes too long - wuld not watch again 3 stars
8/27/04 Billy GRRRRRRRRRRRREAT! 5 stars
8/11/04 kc norton is great 5 stars
5/31/04 Big Russian So Spike, so different, so good, great casting 5 stars
5/22/04 vasilis I LIKED IT A LOT 5 stars
4/14/04 Charlene Javier Another good film from Lee. 4 stars
4/14/04 rojo Great acting and directing, absorbing drama. 5 stars
4/14/04 alice Sucked bigtime. Forced myself to see it but could'nt watch it till the end soo boring... 1 stars
4/11/04 y2mckay Norton gives great performance, film holds interest until pretentious wrap-up 4 stars
2/18/04 Lauren The best movie i have ever seen! Edward Norton is the best of the best 5 stars
2/01/04 This girl Freaking fantastic. Poignant and provocative and some great visual flair. 5 stars
1/23/04 Ben Carasso A verist impression of New York and is dwellers' Yhe monologur in front of tke mirror is ai 5 stars
1/19/04 Chuckie Atkins Jr. I don't get how it relates to 9/11, except it acknowldeges that it happened. 4 stars
1/16/04 Agent Sands (previously Mr. Hat) Excellent in all departments. Another great one for both Spike and Norton. Kick-ass. 5 stars
1/01/04 OnlyChild Love Ed, but hate the movie. Slow moving and boring 1 stars
12/16/03 Monster W. Kung Drama as it should be. Very good, with excellent performances. 4 stars
12/08/03 john sensational - a honest and deeply felt analogy about the state America after 9/11 5 stars
12/05/03 Phil Parma Brian Cox is awesome. Loved it. 5 stars
11/08/03 anne Norton is marvellous! 5 stars
10/29/03 Jinnvisible Spike Lee directs,,,,,,,,,, reformed american history x nazi goes back to JAIL 4 stars
10/01/03 snowconehead You have to work for it, if you want to enjoy it 3 stars
9/26/03 Pete Spike does it again 5 stars
9/21/03 Terryn Really good 5 stars
9/12/03 y2mckay Solid performances, Norton's "FUCK YOU" speech great, but Spike gets pretentious as usual 4 stars
8/22/03 Matt Great acting all around, powerful movie. 5 stars
8/03/03 Norton Awesome movie! 5 stars
7/31/03 r papp I'm a huge Edward Norton fan, so my objectivity is impaired. 5 stars
7/21/03 Unsaying oman I was tranfixed from studio credit to studio credit. The ideal experience too infrequent. 5 stars
7/20/03 The Talking Elbow I wish there were more movies like this, not perfect, but damn, compare this to Juwanna Man 5 stars
7/11/03 bobby it was bullshit 1 stars
7/04/03 Dianne Pope This is the film I have been waiting for to restore my faith in film making again! 5 stars
6/30/03 serbay supper excellent 5 stars
6/30/03 Corky Spike's films always show a truly humanistic core when all is said and done. Bravo! 4 stars
6/28/03 meh meh 5 stars
6/22/03 Johnny Awful. Everyone who says it's great can't really explain because it's style no substance. 1 stars
6/14/03 John Bale An exceptional film maker, exceptional cast and exceptional story. Brilliant ! 5 stars
6/11/03 Rocky Oh please!! I seen better! 2 stars
6/05/03 Bob Amazing and hypnotic in every way 5 stars
5/30/03 S Daniel He capitalized off of 9/11 because he has no talent to produce a real movie 1 stars
5/26/03 mipchunk this movie felt like 25 hours of wasted time! mirror sequence was dramatic kack. 2 stars
5/26/03 Emily Stein Why hasn't Spike Lee won an Oscar? He never dissappoints! I 5 stars
5/24/03 DarkHorse No easy outs, including the uncertain finish 5 stars
5/19/03 JJ Right on Jim The movie Freak. 25th hour is one of my fav films ever! Pepper is amazing 5 stars
5/16/03 Mr. Hat (I'm Back Mo'Fos!) GREAT cast and some of Spike Lee's master directing. VERY GOOD music and story, too. 5 stars
5/04/03 thejames How this movie got a bad rep i dont know. 5 stars
4/06/03 Elizaveta a film with lots of potential that never quite materialized. And it sure liked to stagnate. 4 stars
3/21/03 Jimmy3Z Fantastic writing... Barry Pepper is tremendous 5 stars
3/09/03 Emmalen best acting/directing/writing combo i've seen in a long time--eloquent and spare 5 stars
3/07/03 Andrew Carden Three Words: W-O-W! 5 stars
3/07/03 Winn Greenwood Amazingly done. The mirror sequence is Genius. 5 stars
2/28/03 mc had low expectations and yet I was really engaged by the film 5 stars
2/20/03 Jon Great film... 5 stars
2/08/03 pauline I completely agree with you, Jim( the Movie Freak )!. 5 stars
2/05/03 Donnieboy45 The best movie I've seen since Swingers 5 stars
1/31/03 nancy Riveting-moved me to tears 5 stars
1/29/03 Nancy Tee Amazing 5 stars
1/28/03 Jon The worst movie I have seen in the last two years. Ultra boring. 1 stars
1/27/03 Mike Cray This movie is simply amazing, truly great. 5 stars
1/25/03 FrayLo Norton rocks and some powerful images throughout the movie make this worthwhile 5 stars
1/22/03 Stephanie Edward Norton and cast were superb. Recommend not to miss. 5 stars
1/21/03 the white rabbit a masterpiece from spike lee. 5 stars
1/19/03 WestcoastPunk Greatest movie of the year. Norton is a fuckin God 5 stars
1/16/03 nick2k it was very good...and the wonderful cinematography. but i liked narc more overall. 5 stars
1/12/03 Yo Mama! Excellent film/acting/directing/cinematography etc... even the 9/11 stuff wasn't too much. 5 stars
1/11/03 Flip poignant, deep--Lee had me very minute 5 stars
1/10/03 Butterbean Great character developments. Some deja vu from Do The Right Thing, but it's forgivable. 4 stars
1/10/03 dude on first street yeah it's got punch, yes it serves, but I shouldn't have dipped into my rent cash to see it 4 stars
1/08/03 Amy One of the best films I've seen this year! 5 stars
12/26/02 helloevery1 jim knows what's he talking about. this is a monumental film! norton's best in years 5 stars
12/23/02 Me Not U Pony, Martin, & Johnny Are The Ones That Suck Ass. An amazing post 9/11 film! 5 stars
12/22/02 meathole Amazing and important. Benioff is God. 5 stars
12/22/02 pony theee worst film ever, how do you make even P.S. Hoffman suck so hard???? 1 stars
12/20/02 Terry M. Why isn't everybody pushing for this film? Best i've seen in years! 5 stars
12/20/02 Johnny Boring, misplaced monologue, like every Lee film "I hate the minorities." Sleepwalking, yes 1 stars
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  19-Dec-2002 (R)



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