2002

Rated: R for adult language, sexual references, drug use, and graphic violence.
Genre: Drama
Directed By: Spike Lee
Running Time: 2:14
Review by: Felix Vasquez Jr.
Review Date: 2/15/04

Special Features:
Deleted Scenes
Audio Commentary - 1. Spike Lee - Director
2. David Benioff - Producer
Featurette - 1. Ground Zero
2. Spike Lee's Evolution as an American Filmmaker

THE 25TH HOUR

 

"The 25th Hour" delves with the question of: If you only had one day left of freedom what would you do? Where would you go? Whom would you spend your last hours with. For Monty Brogan, it's something he must face as he quickly looks out onto his seven year sentence in jail after being discovered by DEA agents for storing a kilo of drugs. But, as his last hour draws upon him he decides to tie up old wounds with his friends and family and discover who squealed on him to the DEA, what he inevitably discovers will shock him and make him question his life.

From the opening scenes symbolic of New Yorkers and the events of 9/11 to the heart-wrenching finale, this thought provoking character study which dares to answer that question while the presence of the events of 9/11 is duo-ed with the storyline is very effective and is not only a tale of what a man would do on his last days free, but is also symbolic asking the audience watching, what would you do on your last day of freedom? A question that would be most suited for survivors of the horrible events of 9/11. Those events are an entity during this film, lingering among the cast of characters and events that take place among the film injecting a large aspect of dread and foreboding among its events. There's a truly grim and haunting scene where Hoffman and Pepper's character discuss how or if Brogan will survive in jail while they sit on a window sill that looks directly out onto the wasteland now known as Ground Zero.

Spike Lee takes a departure from his usual self-important self-indulgent trite films and really manages to pack a punch with this powerful thought provoking piece of art. Not usually a fan of Lee's I was mostly drawn to the great cast including some of my favorites like Barry Pepper (Saving Private Ryan, 61), Phillip Seymour Hoffman (State and Main, Boogie Nights), Anna Paquin (X-men, Finding Forrester), Brian Cox (X2, Super Troopers), Rosario Dawson (Sidewalks of New York, Kids), and (my all time favorite) Edward Norton who takes on the powerful role of Monty Brogan the street tough tough talking drug dealer who must linger on his last night of freedom.

Much of Norton's character is likable aside from his terrible crime which the story doesn't attempt to take pity for. He refuses to be beaten down by the overwhelming fear of his jail sentence and looks for the person who sold him out. There's an excellent and truly amazing scene in the film where Brogan stands in front of a bathroom mirror screaming at his reflection attempting to pit blame on someone other than himself. Norton, whom many people that read my reviews know, is my favorite actor of the modern age and saves this film from being complete melodrama, though it's hardly ever. Director Lee skillfully creates a moody somewhat provoking drama that not only focuses on one man's journey into his own psyche with his oncoming trip to jail, but focuses on the impact his journey will have on the people around him in his life. We watch as the character Brogan's true friends reveal themselves with his inevitable trip to prison and we witness whom will be really there for him when the time comes and who will not. Many of the supporting characters are contradictions onto the other characters presenting some truly interesting allegory's among the story.

The film is also more of an ensemble piece rather than a film centering on one character and creates a truly unique and engrossing cast of characters that, when detracted from the actual focus, is still rather entertaining and full of textures and depth; Barry Pepper known from "Saving Private Ryan" gives an excellent Oscar worthy performance as friend Frank Slaughtery not only a compliment to the film but he manages to display why he's so underrated. He manages to give some truly incredible monologues in the film including the scene when he and Hoffman's character are having dinner. He has great chemistry not only with Norton but with Hoffman who often serves as his adversary. We watch Slaughtery's character stick by Brogan but has no pity for him when the time comes. Often times during the film the characters attempt to invoke some sort of pity towards Brogan's character and his ordeal, but he's very adamant on his views on Brogan but remains a supporting influence for him throughout the film.

Pepper is truly charismatic and helps the film become all the more consuming with his electric performance; a favorite of mine, Phillip Seymour Hoffman is a young but rather plain English teacher who works at the local high school and has a sexual attraction for his seductive student Mary (Anna Paquin) who tends to play a game with him during their conversations often flirting and pretending to be interested in him. Hoffman's character is tempted but is never really aware of the implications and severity of acting upon his desires should he ever, despite the fact that his friend is going to jail for another heinous crime. Paquin is truly sexy and hilarious as the bubble-headed seductress who tempts Hoffman's character throughout the film as his exact opposite in which she presents the vigorous youth he's never really had despite the fact he's only in his early thirties but acts much older.

Rosario Dawson plays Naturelle Riviera, Brogan's girlfriend whose loyalty and faith is questioned throughout the film by all the characters including Brogan who suspects she might have tipped off the DEA about his drug stash and goes on a basic journey to discover who might have, she's rather likable in the film and rather sexy; Dawson who often drowns herself in her characters including "Sidewalks of New York" and the tepid "Men in Black II" gives great chemistry off of Norton's character and is truly interesting often dwelling on his trip to jail despite the fact she never really did much to stop his drug dealing. A lot of the characters discuss the possibilities of what might have been as they dwell upon what would have happened had they stopped Brogan's dealings. Thought it's all too little too late, they learn from their experience and refuse to let Brogan rot in jail though he suspects he won't return from prison.

Certain segments in the film make me question what validity to the story they serve; the scene with Hoffman finally acting upon his desire for Paquin's character, etc and make me wonder if they serve any real point. Though the events of September 11 tend to act as a backdrop and grim reminder, the theme also tends to bog the story down and draw attention from the characters and story that while magnetic is also very distracting. I'm not a fan of Lee's work and one reason for that is because of the really annoying sliding panoramic shot of a character walking through a street or, in this case a club. The shot is really pretentious and pompous and truly annoying and there's really no reason for that to be included in such a good movie.

This is one of Spike Lee's best films with an excellent thought provoking story, a great cast of actors who all pull in phenomenal performances, and an ending that will surely leave you breathless.

  • In the fight scene in the climax, Barry Pepper accidentally broke Edward Norton's nose.
  • Basketball is a recurring trademark in all Spike Lee Films. Both Monty and Naturelle played high school basketball; another scene depicts a playground game. Also, Frank is reminded by his boss that they have courtside seats for an upcoming game.
  • Actor Tobey Maguire bought the rights to the original novel with the intent of starring. He later decided to do "Spider-Man" in 2002, although he did stay on as a producer.
  • During his speech in the bathroom, Edward Norton says, "Slavery ended one hundred and thirty seven years ago. Move the fuck on!" This is a reference to 1998's "American History X", where he says, "Slavery ended like a hundred and thirty years ago, how long does it take to get your act together?"
  • Edward Norton's character mentions about wanting to be the "girl in X-Men, the one that can walk through walls". Co-stars Anna Paquin, Brian Cox and Aaron Stanford (The young accountant talking across from Barry Pepper's desk in his office) have all starred in the X-Men movies, as Rogue, General Stryker, and Pyro respectively. The girl who can walk through walls is called "Shadowcat"

 

 

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