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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 26.83%
Just Average: 3.05%
Pretty Crappy: 3.05%
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10 reviews, 104 user ratings

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25th Hour
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by Robert Flaxman

"The beauty of the everyday."
5 stars

In Spike Lee's latest film, 25th Hour, Monty Brogan (Edward Norton) is about to be sent to jail for seven years for dealing drugs. Gathering his girlfriend Naturelle (Rosario Dawson) and lifelong friends Frank (Barry Pepper) and Jakob (Philip Seymour Hoffman) together, he prepares for one last night in the free world. It's an emotional situation, and Lee gives it the power it deserves to have. Focusing on conversations and emotions, 25th Hour is the ultimate triumph of substance over style.

There are certainly many things one could find "wrong" with 25th Hour, if one were looking for "conventional" film technique. Lee repeats certain shots two or three times in sequence, and he often ignores continuity editing, only matching on action when a character is speaking. However, there are certainly reasons behind doing this. It is easy to see that Lee's use of repetition is intended to underscore emotional connections; this theme starts in the film's opening scene when Monty picks up a dog that has been abandoned by men who had been using it to fight. With some difficulty, Monty gets the dog into his trunk to take it to the vet; Lee shows Monty slamming the trunk twice in succession. As the dog, later named Doyle, becomes one of Monty's most important companions throughout the movie, this moment is emotionally important for Lee to underscore; he later does the same with hugs between various characters.

The argument for Lee's blatant disregard of continuity editing is thornier, but the most obvious answer is that he simply doesn't find it important. 25th Hour isn't about smooth cuts and perfect action matches; it's about a man's last night with his friends before he goes to prison. It doesn't matter what the editing looks like. Aside from that, though, the edits simply reveal a short passage of time. It practically seems to be Lee's intention to show the audience all 24 hours of Monty's last day.

More important is a desire to seem realistic, so Lee stuffs the movie with semi-pointless, sometimes rambling conversations that add little to the narrative but speak worlds about the characters. Perhaps the most important of these is Frank and Jakob's discussion of Monty at Frank's apartment; in one long take they have a conversation of several minutes about how Monty will fare in prison and related topics - all the while, Ground Zero lurks in the background, out of focus.

If Gangs of New York was a tribute to New York's diversity, 25th Hour is that plus a tribute to the resilience of its citizens. Frank used to live in the World Trade Center's shadow; now his apartment towers above what's left of it. Frank, though, is unfazed; "Bin Laden could drop another one next door; I'm not moving." 25th Hour is the first major post-9/11 film to deal with New York's reaction to that day; the fact that Lee starts the film with shots of the towers of light that for a while rose from Ground Zero to the sky lets the viewer know that in many ways, this film is a tribute to the city's spirit.

Central to that concept is the blistering rebuke Monty's mirror image delivers in the bathroom of his father's bar. As Monty watches, the man in the mirror starts a stinging diatribe against any and everyone in the city, from "the uptown brothers" to the "Korean grocers" to the "Bensonhurst Italians" to the Hassidim to Monty's own friends and family. It's a fierce, memorable scene, one of a handful that recall an earlier Norton film, Fight Club, though it's more immediately powerful than anything in that film. Monty concludes the rant by telling his mirror image off, one of several instances in the film in which Monty recognizes that he blew it big-time and he's about to pay the price.

Though Lee did not write 25th Hour (David Benioff adapted it from his own novel), his mark is all over it in its "love letter to New York" capacity, from little touches like Jakob's Yankees hat to broader things like working a bridge into any number of establishing shots.

The key part of the film, though, is its performances, most of which are stellar. Edward Norton revisits his best work as Monty, conjuring up a character who knows what he's gotten himself into and just wants to have one last good time before he faces the music. When he first comes on the screen, there's a "Hey, that's Edward Norton!" feeling, but Norton disabuses us of it in short order. Barry Pepper and Philip Seymour Hoffman are each outstanding, with Pepper as good as he's ever been as a cocky Wall Streeter who deep down is fiercely loyal to his friends, and Hoffman as an uptight English teacher infatuated with one of his students (a rather annoying Anna Paquin).

Brian Cox, as Monty's father James, doesn't have much to do, but his final sequence in the car with Monty on the way to Otisville is as emotional as any fifteen minutes in film this year. Ex-football player Tony Siragusa's film debut is mindlessly fun, with Siragusa so good you'd never know it was his first job. Rosario Dawson, though, is easily the least of the main performances; she's not necessarily bad, but, particularly amid a slew of excellent work, she's certainly nothing special.

Perhaps the biggest compliment that can be given to 25th Hour is that we care about what happens to Monty. Movies that feature criminals as their ostensible heroes often suffer as a result; it can be hard to root for felons. The best of these films feature criminals who are in prison and/or remarkably contrite (The Shawshank Redemption); Monty Brogan will be in prison and is remarkably contrite. His fate becomes important to the viewer; throughout the film we are offered the idea that perhaps Monty will kill himself rather than go to prison. We want no part of it; we become Frank and Jakob and Naturelle and James.

We just want Monty to do some time, and we'll be waiting for him when he gets out.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=6463&reviewer=385
originally posted: 10/11/04 15:40:29
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User Comments

7/20/21 Jack Sommersby Overpraised poppycock with practically zero believability. 2 stars
4/14/21 GLR "The Black Stanley Kubrick"???? Never even been good enough to be the Black Ed Wood!!!! 1 stars
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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