December 2002
25th Hour

Reviewed by Wilson Morales

25th Hour

25th Hour Movie Poster
Distributor: Touchstone Pictures
Director: Spike Lee
Screenwriter: David Benioff, based on his novel
Producers: Spike Lee, Jon Kilik, Tobey MaGuire, & Julia Chasman
Composer: Terence Blanchard
Cast: Edward Norton, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Barry Pepper, Rosario Dawson, Anna Paquin, Brian Cox, and introducing Tony Siragusa


Edward Norton in Touchstone's 25th Hour - 2002

Barry Pepper, Edward Norton and Philip Seymour Hoffman in Touchstone's 25th Hour - 2002

Rosario Dawson in Touchstone's 25th Hour - 2002

Rosario Dawson and Edward Norton in Touchstone's 25th Hour - 2002

Barry Pepper and Edward Norton in Touchstone's 25th Hour - 2002

Edward Norton and Rosario Dawson in Touchstone's 25th Hour - 2002

Brian Cox and Edward Norton in Touchstone's 25th Hour - 2002

Edward Norton in Touchstone's 25th Hour - 2002

  

If there was a film never holding back of anything, it is this film, 25th HOUR. Spike Lee is a director who loves challenges. He goes after things that others shy away from. Some may not like him because he doesn’t play by “their” rules and that’s great, otherwise we wouldn’t have films like “Do The Right Thing” or “Bamboozled”. I’m saying if these films are good or bad, but the concept and the images are worth noting. Speaking of images, Spike Lee is also a New York City filmmaker, and while many have come to this city to shoot, each has been afraid to shoot in present time and highlight the current events surrounding the city, specifically 9/11. The 25th HOUR is based on a book by David Benioff, and Director Lee has done a brilliant job of bringing this story to the big screen using elements of New York City as secondary characters to go along with the amazing acting by the entire cast, specifically Edward Norton. It is clearly one of the best films of 2002.

As the story begins, Monty Brogan (Norton) and his friend Kostya (Siragusa) find a wounded dog and think about what to do with it. Being the noble one, Monty decides to take the dog and somehow find help. Flash forward a few years later, Monty is by a bench overlooking the Hudson River while watching his dog. When a drug junkie wants to buy some drugs from Monty, he’s pissed when Monty rejects him and tells him that he’s out of the game. Seems that Monty’s been “pinched” and has to do Edward Norton in Touchstone's 25th Hour - 2002 some time, 7 years. It all occurred one day while Monty was home with his girlfriend Naturalle Rivera (Dawson). While having some fun in the bathtub, the doorbell rings and it the FBI. While Monty boldly challenges them to search his apartment, he’s sudden surprised when they don’t do so and know exactly where the stash of drugs are hidden. As he is caught, prosecuted, and convicted, he’s decided to make amends with close friends and family the day before he leaves for prison. His father James (Cox) always knew Monty was smart but didn’t use brains for good use. Monty pays visits to his childhood friends Francis and Jacob (Pepper and Hoffman) and asks them to share the last day with him. They are there for him even though they knew and should have said something throughout the years. As Monty starts prepares for what seems to be the end of freedom, he ponders his relationship with Naturalle. She loves him, but did she turn him in? On his last night, Monty even has to face his drug-dealing boss and let them know he won’t be a rat. Lots to do and think about before the taste of freedom is gone.

First off, the cast is remarkable. Each character is fleshed out with a background that there’s nothing missing. The minute we know the characters and what they’re all about through flashbacks, we can tell where they are going without having any contrived situations. Norton, as the lead, brings the same gift he brings to most of his role. He’s edgy, cool, and remorseful. In a classic scene that will be talked about for a while, he makes the most of the lines and brings out what some New Yorker think but won’t say. As his girlfriend, Dawson displays raw emotion as she must sit back and watch her man go through the most difficult day of his life. Pepper and Hoffman play their parts well as the a wall street guy and a teacher with such realism that one wonders how they stayed connected when they are each are so different from the other. It’s a credit to the writer/ novelist David Benioff that he crafted such an enduring relationship between childhood friends. They may be different now as they grew apart over the years but the relationship is deep and everlasting. The score by Terence Blanchard, who has done many of Spike’s films, is very rich, dramatic and emotional. It serves as a voice in some ways, sometimes manipulatively, but drawing you closer to the story. This could have been a simple story about a guy spending his last day with his boys, but Director Spike Lee took it to another level. He shot the film in the aftermath of 9/11 and used the WTC scenery as backdrops to go along with the characters and their backgrounds. He embraces it, as we should all do. This is a film where one is totally involved with all of the characters. Some periods may get dark, but life does go on, and 25th HOUR is a film where one examines life and the advantages it offers.

 

 

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