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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 27.16%
Average: 3.09%
Pretty Bad: 2.47%
Total Crap: 6.79%

10 reviews, 102 user ratings

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25th Hour
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by Erik Childress

"THIS Is Spike Lee's Best Film!"
5 stars

The greatest complaint I’ve ever had about the films of Spike Lee is their incessence on dealing with one topic only to spiral into other plots that have no business interconnecting the black-and-white dots. Is Jungle Fever about interracial romance or about the bottomed-out world of a crack junkie? Is Summer of Sam about the infamous Son of Sam slayings or just another variation on Do the Right Thing’s message? In fact, that masterstroke of brilliance that gets labeled as one of the seminal works in film history, I’ll say at the risk of having the Critic’s Cupid shoot an arrow into my scrotum, is an overrated affair that doesn’t play as fair as everyone would have you believe. His latest film does and deserves all the praise that’s been spread out over Lee’s career into a collective achievement that is both stunningly powerful and delivers the message that has been lacking of late in so many “message” movies.

Montgomery Brogan (Edward Norton) stops along the Brooklyn bridge one evening when he spots a dog that has been kicked and beaten and left for dead. The dog barks and snaps at him, but Monty still takes him to the vet and saves him, creating a loyal follower. Monty is also someone in need of a second chance, whether anyone believes he fully deserves one or not. He has been a drug dealer for most of his adult life, thriving off the pleasure and pain of others and now he’s been pinched. Facing a minimum of seven years in the big house where “delicate white boys” aren’t quite the same mouthpieces they are on the outside, Monty is being thrown a going-away party and all his friends are invited.

Jakob Elinsky (Philip Seymour Hoffman) is the repressed high school teacher, bored with his life and tempted by the advances of spunky student, Mary D'Annunzio (Anna Paquin). Frank Slattery (Barry Pepper) is the arrogant Wall Street type who thinks he has all the answers and has convinced himself that Monty is getting a taste of his own medicine. Naturelle Rivera (Rosario Dawson) is the girlfriend Monty first met smoking on the school playground and whom many suspect to be the one who dropped dime on him.

Only through a few flashbacks, 25th Hour chronicles this final night of freedom through humor, pain and judgement and is one of the first major productions to directly channel the events of 9/11 through its characters. Frank has a great apartment overlooking Ground Zero that he refuses to give up. Monty has a final meal with his father (Brian Cox), a retired firefighter and now bar owner who lost friends in the tragedy. The film even ends with Bruce Springsteen’s amazing song “The Fuse” from the new album inspired by those events.

Those feelings come to a head during that final meal when Monty looks into a mirror and listens to the other side vent in what is going to be the most talked about monologue for years to come. All the anger Monty has been mounting up inside (at least since his arrest) comes spewing out in a verbiage of uncompromising, un-PC fury. In what first seems like an excised speech from American History X, no gender, race or lifestyle is left unscathed and will easily anger some and shock all. But those who turn off their ears in a huff, walk out or shut off from the movie completely will miss the entire force of this and everything the film is trying to say if you forego the final thing Monty is pissed off at.

2002 has seen some of the best ensemble works to ever grace celluloid and 25th Hour is no exception. Each performance deserves its own review and every one is liable to spark some dormant emotion within you. It’s great to have Edward Norton back doing what he does best after sleepwalking through Red Dragon. The seesaw on which he balances anger, introversion and ultimately a deep-seated fear culminates in a final wish that is unexpected, traumatic and nowhere near as powerful without the support of Philip Seymour Hoffman and Barry Pepper.

Hoffman can play this kind of role in his sleep, and in one scene actually does. The Nabokov tendencies between men and women has been played to death in the movies. Whether it’s teacher/student related or just a vast difference in age, I’ve seen at least nine films just this year to touch on the subject. The way Lee approaches it here, again at first sight, doesn’t seem all that radical except that he makes us a participant. Paquin’s full-bodied performance (assuring no one will look at The Piano the same way again) is a temptation onto itself. Does she want to seduce him, is she just exploring the tease element of her assets or simply looking for a better grade? When a decision is put into motion, its not about the what-if consequences that may occur down the road, but one man looking for justification of his life through how others approve of his actions. Namely us.

Pepper also has a very tricky role. His Wall Street hotshot is another movie stereotype and probably one we’ve all encountered somewhere in our own lives. The narcissistic image he presents to his friends and us may be more than a smokescreen than he’s willing to admit. In a story where loyalty is just one of the many virtues put under the microscope, his spiral is less about a growth arc but in letting his guard down, peeling away the very layers of his feelings until they come rushing out uncontrollably. If Saving Private Ryan and 61* weren’t enough to erase his career choices of Battlefield Earth and Knockaround Guys, then this will. It’s an exceptional performance.

Last but certainly not least is the great Brian Cox, who between his brief roles in this and Adaptation, should be given some kind of special award. As Monty’s father, Cox plays a small but integral part; the last representation of family blood. He doesn’t lecture or express outright disappointment at the choices his son has made, accepting him as an adult who now has to rest in the bed he has made. However you interpret the final scene of 25th Hour (which may get a little too Raising Arizona for some tastes), the speech that Cox delivers in voiceover is the pinnacle of the father/son bond. All the advice, hopes and connections between a man and his boy are laid out in most heartbreaking and optimistic fashion and accentuated by the beautiful work of composer Terence Blanchard. Be prepared to give a hug or wipe an eye at the end of it.

It’s been too long since we’ve had a film where personal responsibility and regret takes precedence over the blame game and applaud Lee for every right step he takes with this material. Like the destruction in New York, a bomb has been dropped into Monty’s life that will change it forever. But instead of looking around, pointing fingers at anyone who may have passed him on his timeline all he can do is look in the mirror and then discover where he can look next. We can live in fear, we can look for revenge or we can move on for ours can be a life that came so close to never happening.

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originally posted: 12/20/02 11:15:38
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User Comments

2/17/18 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
6/14/12 tommy yes spike lee's of many... 5 stars
3/03/11 chris c A somber look at a man's last days of freedom shadowed by the tragedy of 9/11 5 stars
2/03/11 isaiah one of my three favorite movies 5 stars
12/21/08 Tony Transformed the way I look at justice and redemption. 5 stars
8/30/08 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
3/11/08 Leumas Spectacular 5 stars
3/03/08 ladavies I could watch this movie over and over again...and have. 5 stars
10/24/07 lee Hanson What a powerful film. It is flawless from beginning to end. 5 stars
6/11/07 fools♫gold I related to everyone but Norton's character until the beautiful end. 5 stars
5/31/07 ES alright, not much there 3 stars
10/21/06 Billychic Loved the movie - however, I'm still trying to figure out the ending... 4 stars
8/30/06 scott amazing movie, emotion packed, interesting 4 stars
3/28/06 john martin one of the best american movies 5 stars
8/08/05 E This confusing, plot-less piece of crap is overrated 2 stars
8/06/05 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
5/11/05 Simon A movie as carried by its fantastic cast-performances as any. Powerful. 5 stars
2/07/05 bodi Najlepszy fim jaki iwdzialem 5 stars
12/21/04 DM Powerful, but Lee gets caught up in his own excesses 4 stars
10/30/04 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
8/12/04 kc norton is great 5 stars
6/01/04 Big Russian So Spike, so different, so good, great casting 5 stars
5/22/04 vasilis I LIKED IT A LOT 5 stars
4/15/04 Charlene Javier Another good film from Lee. 4 stars
4/15/04 rojo Great acting and directing, absorbing drama. 5 stars
4/15/04 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
2/02/04 This girl Freaking fantastic. Poignant and provocative and some great visual flair. 5 stars
1/24/04 Ben Carasso A verist impression of New York and is dwellers' Yhe monologur in front of tke mirror is ai 5 stars
1/20/04 Chuckie Atkins Jr. I don't get how it relates to 9/11, except it acknowldeges that it happened. 4 stars
1/17/04 Agent Sands (previously Mr. Hat) Excellent in all departments. Another great one for both Spike and Norton. Kick-ass. 5 stars
1/02/04 OnlyChild Love Ed, but hate the movie. Slow moving and boring 1 stars
12/17/03 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
12/06/03 Phil Parma Brian Cox is awesome. Loved it. 5 stars
11/08/03 anne Norton is marvellous! 5 stars
10/30/03 Jinnvisible Spike Lee directs,,,,,,,,,, reformed american history x nazi goes back to JAIL 4 stars
10/02/03 snowconehead You have to work for it, if you want to enjoy it 3 stars
9/27/03 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
7/22/03 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
7/12/03 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
6/06/03 Bob Amazing and hypnotic in every way 5 stars
5/31/03 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
5/25/03 DarkHorse No easy outs, including the uncertain finish 5 stars
5/20/03 JJ Right on Jim The movie Freak. 25th hour is one of my fav films ever! Pepper is amazing 5 stars
5/17/03 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
5/05/03 thejames How this movie got a bad rep i dont know. 5 stars
4/07/03 Elizaveta a film with lots of potential that never quite materialized. And it sure liked to stagnate. 4 stars
3/22/03 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
3/08/03 Andrew Carden Three Words: W-O-W! 5 stars
3/07/03 Winn Greenwood Amazingly done. The mirror sequence is Genius. 5 stars
3/01/03 mc had low expectations and yet I was really engaged by the film 5 stars
2/21/03 Jon Great film... 5 stars
2/09/03 pauline I completely agree with you, Jim( the Movie Freak )!. 5 stars
2/06/03 Donnieboy45 The best movie I've seen since Swingers 5 stars
2/01/03 nancy Riveting-moved me to tears 5 stars
1/30/03 Nancy Tee Amazing 5 stars
1/29/03 Jon The worst movie I have seen in the last two years. Ultra boring. 1 stars
1/28/03 Mike Cray This movie is simply amazing, truly great. 5 stars
1/26/03 FrayLo Norton rocks and some powerful images throughout the movie make this worthwhile 5 stars
1/23/03 Stephanie Edward Norton and cast were superb. Recommend not to miss. 5 stars
1/22/03 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
1/13/03 Yo Mama! Excellent film/acting/directing/cinematography etc... even the 9/11 stuff wasn't too much. 5 stars
1/12/03 Flip poignant, deep--Lee had me very minute 5 stars
1/11/03 Butterbean Great character developments. Some deja vu from Do The Right Thing, but it's forgivable. 4 stars
1/11/03 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
1/09/03 Amy One of the best films I've seen this year! 5 stars
12/27/02 helloevery1 jim knows what's he talking about. this is a monumental film! norton's best in years 5 stars
12/24/02 Me Not U Pony, Martin, & Johnny Are The Ones That Suck Ass. An amazing post 9/11 film! 5 stars
12/23/02 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
12/21/02 Terry M. Why isn't everybody pushing for this film? Best i've seen in years! 5 stars
12/21/02 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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