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Click for full sized poster

25th Hour

Starring Edward Norton, Barry Pepper, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Anna Paquin, Rosaria Dawson
Screenplay by David Benioff based on his novel
Directed by Spike Lee
website: touchstonepictures

IN SHORT: Magnificent Norton acting in a better than usual Spike Lee production. [Rated R for strong language and some violence. 134 minutes]

We've been reviewing Spike Lee movies for years. We've done numerous interviews with the man. There are two opinions we can express that we stand by. The first is that Lee's ability to create characters, dialogue and scenes that ring with truth and are instantly accessible has increased exponentially over the years. The second is that his ongoing need to make some kind of statement at the end of each of his pictures defeats all he achieves in the first two acts of each film, if not the entire film itself. It's less a factor in this year's 25th Hour, but it's still a problem.

This is the story of the last day of freedom that Montgomery "Monty" Brogan (Edward Norton) will have for a good long time. With the occasional flashback to fill in the details, we learn the why and how of Brogan's fall into the big bucks world of drug dealing to kids at the school he's been kicked out of (for dealing pot to classmates). Monty's sworn off dealing but not in time to prevent agents of the Drug Enforcement Agency from busting into the home that he shares with a loving numero uno lady, Naturelle Rivera (Rosaria Dawson). The agents immediately find the remnants of Monty's stash of dope and dollars and that, as they say, is all she wrote. In his last day of freedom, prior doing a hard seven at Otisville, and he's got some scores to settle. One is to determine if it was his lady who tipped off the feds. Two is to make sure his mob-connected boss Uncle Nikolai (Levani) knows that he's going to keep his mouth shut -- there's his on-the-wagon, bartender dad James (Brian Cox), to protect.

Three is to spend as much time with his closest friends Francis Xavier Slaughtery (Barry Pepper) and Jakob Elinsky (Phillip Seymour Hoffman), as possible. Jakob has the most interesting subplot. He's a teacher infaturated with a 17 year old student minx Mary D'Annunzio (Anna Paquin). Mary doesn't do much to discourage the attention. Monty doesn't want to see any friend of his go his route, so there's some heavy duty talk a comin'. Sure, it doesn't help that Mary is hanging out Bridge, the club where they go to party. Heh heh heh.

Don't waste your time looking for Spike's cameo in this film, folks. It ain't here (but if it is, it is so miniscule that you'll have missed the forest for the trees). Edward Norton demonstrates why he must be beloved by acting students everywhere. The man gets so much out of doing so little that his character just fills the screen, edge to edge. Lee has written some of the best individual scenes in his career, one of which involves Norton dissing Norton from the other side of a mirror, others which will probably be performed by those aforementioned students in years to come.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to 25th Hour, he would have paid . . .

$7.00

By the time Monty and his dad get in the car and head up towards the prison, it's time to leave. That car ride up involves an elaborate visual "what if" sequence -- be glad we warned you as to that much because it confused the heck out of us (we blame 26 movies in 6 days viewing time. whatever...) -- that makes a point but is out of character with every second of every minute that has already been carefully constructed. In our worthless opinion, of course. Spike Lee does better work than 90+ percent of everything we see. Edward Norton's work in this film is statue worthy. We can ignore ten minutes for close to two hours of really good ones.

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The Cranky Critic website is Copyright © 1995  -  2017  by Chuck Schwartz. Articles by Paul Fischer are Copyright © 1999 - 2006 Paul Fischer. All images, unless otherwise noted, are property of,©, ®, their respective studios and are used by permission. All Rights Reserved. Not to be used or copied for any commercial purpose. Academy Award(s) and Oscar®(s) are registered trademarks and service marks of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.