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55 of 60 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lee and Benioff Make Neo Noir Classic
Spike Lee's film of Michael Benioff's novel 25th Hour is one of the strongest of the neo-noir films of the last few years, and one of the few films to address the corruption of dealing drugs and the breakdown of culture symbolized by the WTC site. Edward Norton plays Montgomery Brogan, a heroin dealer who must report to the Otisville Federal Prison in the morning...
Published on August 5, 2004 by Mark D Burgh

17 of 25 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars What Makes Monty Run?
No one can ever say that Spike Lee's films aren't at the very least interesting or at best, brilliant. "25th Hour," his newest film is in the former category.
"25th Hour" tells the story of Monty Brogan who has approx 24 hours until he must report to prison for a term of 7 years for selling drugs. We are privy to what is going on in Monty's (named after Montgomery...
Published on December 19, 2002 by MICHAEL ACUNA

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55 of 60 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lee and Benioff Make Neo Noir Classic, August 5, 2004
This review is from: 25th Hour (DVD)
Spike Lee's film of Michael Benioff's novel 25th Hour is one of the strongest of the neo-noir films of the last few years, and one of the few films to address the corruption of dealing drugs and the breakdown of culture symbolized by the WTC site. Edward Norton plays Montgomery Brogan, a heroin dealer who must report to the Otisville Federal Prison in the morning. Monty's life until this point has been a dream; he lives with a beautiful woman, drives a cool car, and gets into all the clubs, but financing this life is heroin and the Russian Mafia.

Edward Norton gives a typical strong performance - I'd love to see him and Johnny Depp in a film - making Monty a rich character who understands his own self-delusions. Barry Pepper and the ever wonderful Phillip Hoffman play Monty's more conventional friends, Slattery and Alinsky, the former a Wall-Street cowboy, and the latter a repressed English teacher in love with one of his students. Rosanna Dawson plays Monty's woman with understated power and sorrow.

Monty's final day of freedom plays out in clubs, parks, bars, and his memories, which Spike Lee weaves seamlessly in and out of the narrative, sparing us a moralistic explanation for Monty, a nice boy, ending up becoming a drug dealer, but showing us instead the parts of Monty's life that mean something to him: finding an abused pit bull, meeting Naturale, getting busted and interrogated by arrogant DEA agents.

The rant that Monty gives to his reflection is right out of David Benioff's book, nearly word-for-word, so stop blaming Spike Lee, and besides it's a great set piece, expressing Monty's self-loathing at the city which will go on despite him. Lee follows up this tour-de-force with all the people Monty cursed waving good-bye to him as he leaves New York, one of the most wonderful cinematic poems I've seen.

Monty is himself the City, broken, confused, and angry; beautiful, Monty wants to make himself ugly to protect himself from gang rape in prison, and he calls on his friends Slattery and Alinsky to beat him, horrifying them both.

Again, the flight of fantasy at the end of the film is right out of Benioff's book and not something Spike Lee made up, although Lee often extends the ends of his films (see Mo' Better Blues and Clockers), so Benioff's novel was right in keeping with Lee's style.

This is one of Spike Lee's best films, and it was totally disregarded at the box office, probably people want to pigeonhole Lee. But like all great artists, Spike Lee can transcend himself. I believe 25th Hour will be remembered as a great American film in the years to come.

Note: I would recommend you read David Benioff's novel, but the film is taken right from the book with few amendations, and those small changes - emphasizing 9/11, making Monty's father a fireman - improve Benioff's book.
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best movies I have seen., May 21, 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: 25th Hour (DVD)
I am not a big fan of Spike Lee and I do not usually write reviews for movies. But after watching this film, I was inspired to do so. This is one of the best movies I have ever seen. Edward Norton plays his role to perfection. His supporting cast does an excellent job at bringing out his exceptional acting skills. The few montage sequences in the film were humerous as well as though-provoking. This is one of those movies that will stay in your mind long after you view it. I highly recommend this film to anyone who enjoys a good drama. I have a new found respect for Spike Lee.
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51 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Criminals are always playing spin the bottle and sooner or later it is going to point to the ugly., March 21, 2008
This review is from: 25th Hour (DVD)
One of the many things that make 25th hour such a special film to me is how Benioff and Lee didn't attempt to cram too many events into this plot. This film does take place in just one day, and it's a perfect snapshot of the lead protagonist Monty Brogan's thoughts and actions in that final day before he begins a 7 year jail sentence for dealing heroin, expertly put together by David Benioff and Spike Lee. We see Brogan (superbly played by Edward Norton) walking his dog, talking to his girlfriend, having a meal with his father, going out to a club with his friends, preparing to go to jail and being driven there. It's not over the top, it isn't brash, but it does do what is necessary.

Brogan is clearly worried and regretful. This is faultlessly portrayed by the mirror scene, in which he rants incessantly about the variety of people populating New York, and then realizes that he only has himself to blame for the situation he is in. It's such a human moment, since how many people can honestly say that they have never chosen to blame others, and take their anger out in a vicious way, even if it is just personal thoughts? But it isn't just Monty who feels regret, virtually every other character we focus on does, Monty's father is weighed down by his former alcoholism, and he partly holds himself responsible for Monty's fate. And so do Monty's friends, not preventing him from his choice to deal drugs.

Monty Brogan is not really shown in a 'good' or 'bad' light. Norton plays him as a normal person. He's easy to relate to, and it's a reminder of how anyone can turn out depending on what choices they make. His choice of drug dealing is looked down upon, the interrogators ridicule him, but that is only in the context of drug dealing, not as a normal person. Benioff and Lee were keen to show his actions like this.

The film is skillfully made, from the very tasteful opening credit scene acknowledging 9/11 (another honest feature about the film, which is an important theme throughout), where we see the lights at ground zero dropping from the sky, to the fantasy scene with Monty and his father in the car near the end, where they think about the family he could have had, all surreally dressed in while. Terence Blanchard's score too is one of the most beautiful I've heard in a recent film along with Michael Andrews score for Donnie Darko - The Director's Cut (Two-Disc Special Edition). The film tells it like it is. It's about decision making, it's about responsibility and it's about real friendship. It's realistic on an emotional level and is now one of my favorite Spike Lee Joints.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Greed, lust and distrust, set against the aftermath of 9/11, April 17, 2003
This review is from: 25th Hour (DVD)
Spike Lee's "The 25 Hour" is the story of a New York drug dealer's long last night of freedom before a seven-year prison stint. It is a sad movie for a bunch of reasons, but most notably for the way the Monty Brogan (Edward Norton) wastes his final night in a deafening, public night club, with childhood friends he no longer really knows, and a girlfriend he no longer trusts. By the following morning, Monty knows some things that might have changed that final night for the better, but then Monty's whole life has played out that way, learning things after the fact. It's why he's going to prison.
Edward Norton is entrenched in this kind of character -- a smart, quick-talking brooder, aware of his risks, but willing to roll the dice. But much like Norton's torn characters of "Fight Club" and "American History X," Monty senses something lacking about his masculinity; it isn't the length of time in jail that worries him, it's the first night. He rubs his pretty boy face, pretty certain he'll be raped or killed. His Russian mobster boss tells him to beat someone up, and bad, or else. "The only thing I learned about prison," the mobster says, "is that I don't like prison."
Monty gathers two old friends, one a Jewish literature teacher, Jacob, (Phillip Seymour Hoffman), the other a hopped-up stockbroker, Francis, (Barry Pepper) for a night of reconciliation, celebration. The girlfriend, Naturelle (Rosario Dawson), comes along, although she and Monty aren't speaking much, since Monty believes it was Naturelle who turned him into the DEA.
Did she? The movie argues for both possibilities and then reveals the answer. Dawson is not a great actor, but she finds her mark with Naturelle, a young, Latin beauty who loves Monty but keeps her distance; she's sad and kind, but she's also the hottest thing on the block, and not particularly subject to loyalty laws once Monty's gone.
The friends fight their own demons. Jacob, the English teacher, is more intrigued by a student (Anna Paquin) who joins Monty's party at the club. Stockbroker Francis fights a movie-long battle on whether to lust after Naturelle, or berate her. There is also Monty's father (Brian Cox), a semi-reformed alcoholic bartender who blames his poor example for his son's fate.
"The 25th Hour" is, then, a jack-of-all-trades lament, set against the World Trade Center cleanup of 9/11, which Lee displays prominently throughout the film. It creates a deliberate pall over the film, as does the loud, melodramatic score that plays during many scenes. The terrorist attacks play a central role in a lengthy rant that Norton delivers straight to the camera -- the centerpiece of the film, it's a angry treatise on the disgust of New York that also doubles as its charms; like most New Yorkers, Monty has a tough love for his city, but it's a deep love nonetheless. Bottle this scene up and you've got a perfect movie.
Lee wanders a bit -- the screenplay isn't quite good enough to justify such emphasis on Jacob's storyline -- but "The 25th Hour" ends on a provocative note that explores a choice that has been in front of Monty all along. It's farfetched, intentionally so, and the kind of wish we'd all like to have when we're faced with steep consequence. The scene only works if we think Monty, through his remorse, has earned the right to dream it. And Norton sells it, in one of his best performances.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Spike Lee's Near Perfect Hour, August 5, 2004
G P Padillo "paolo" (Portland, ME United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: 25th Hour (DVD)
All of the things Lee is criticized and raked over the coals for is precisely what makes The 25th Hour such a masterful film.

When a director of obvious intellect develop his own highly personal and obvious style it bothers people. However, being bashed in the head isn't such a bad thing when it's done with such artistic expression and style. You have to want it, otherwise the "Leeisms" will become enough of an annoyance that one simply cannot enjoy the film. Park your prejudice and Lee frustrations at the door, however, and you're in for a noble, enlightening film that you cannot help being moved by.

I don't understand all the complaints about the "race rant" in the men's room. Some complain that it has nothing to do with the story - or it's poorly placed in the picture. I can't think of a better place for it and feel the scene is placed there to do exactly what it does (for those who get it): shock and disturb - a jolting dose of reality and Norton's delivery of this monologue is as pungent as a Shakespearean soliloquy. This was the first scene I felt the tears welling up in my eyes as I recognized myself - and everyone else in the world (yes, you over there).

The entire cast felt as though they'd been performing their roles onstage 8 shows a week, so perfect was the ensemble unity.

Lee touches on so many issues in the microcosm that is New York, but that microcosm becomes universal.

The penultimate scene is visionary, all dressed in white, and bathed in dreamlike light leading into the sobering reality of the finale. Lee makes the inevitable ending not only bearable, but believable and Norton's unusual protagonist becomes honorable.

A beautiful movie filled with hope. Glorious filmmaking by an American master.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Film techniques add interest and edginess to this fine story, August 27, 2003
This review is from: 25th Hour (DVD)
This Spike Lee film is a hard-edged story of a convicted drug dealer on the last day before he has to serve a 7-year prison sentence. Edward Norton stars in this role and brings all his excellent acting talents to the task of taking a long last look at the New York City he loves as well as the important people in his life. There's his girlfriend, played by Rosario Dawson, who just might be the person who betrayed him to the cops. There's his father, played by Brian Cox, who blames himself for his son going astray. There are his two best friends, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Barry Pepper, who know that their friend will never be the same again. Add a couple of Russian gangsters to this mix, as well as a precocious teenager, played by Anna Paquin, whose seductiveness tempts Philip Seymour Hoffman into making an unwise decision, and the scene is set for an intriguing, fast-paced film.
I liked the theme, which was about being responsible for the consequences of your actions, and I liked Spike Lee's interpretation of it. I especially liked some of his film techniques. Sometimes the colors are altered to show the main characters bathed in blue. And, during the sequences that get inside Norton's mind, the colors are glaring neon. This adds to the interest and the edginess of the film.
The story is easy to relate to. The characters are real. The acting is the finest that the film industry has to offer. And there's a director who has his own personal style of bringing it all to life. You can't go wrong with that combination.
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20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars one of Lee's best, January 13, 2003
Spike Lee's "25th Hour" is a monumental accomplishment that catapults the filmmaker right back into the pantheon of outstanding American directors. With his past few films, Lee - who seemed so cutting edge and promising a filmmaker a decade or so back - had started to make us wonder if, perhaps, we hadn't overestimated some of his talent. But with "25th Hour," the master has returned to form, fashioning a brilliant and thought-provoking character study out of David Benioff's novel, a chronicle of how a convicted drug dealer spends his last 24 hours of freedom before heading off to prison to serve a seven-year term.
Montgomery Brogan is a good looking, generally pleasant-natured fellow who's made a lot of bad choices in his life and now finds himself having to pay the piper. Although Monty is terrified of going to prison, he harbors no illusions about the fairness of the verdict. He knows he screwed up and he feels no compulsion to squirm out of his punishment or to look for fall guys to take the blame for him. Monty's offense is, indeed, a serious one - selling drugs to schoolchildren - and, much to their credit, Benioff and Lee do not ask us to shed tears for Monty's fate. We are asked to care about Monty as a person, it's true, but not to approve of his actions. Monty has chosen to spend this last day of freedom in the company of his lifelong buddies, Frank and Jakob, the former a high stakes player on Wall Street and the latter a high school English teacher. Both men, who have taken widely differing paths in their own lives, still retain a spark of affection for Monty and even blame themselves to some extent for somehow letting Monty down at a time when they might still have been able to successfully intervene to help prevent the outcome they are all now facing. In fact, much of the film is spent on self-recrimination, with various characters coming to terms with the painful reality of a situation that seems to have gone beyond anyone's ability to affect or control it. The fourth member of the party is Monty's girlfriend, Naturelle, a woman deeply in love with the condemned man, who wishes he had gone straight before all this happened, yet who, during all the time she was with him, was not averse to enjoying what Monty's ill-gotten gains were able to buy for her. All the characters, in fact, struggle with having to find that moral and ethical line over which they will not cross. As the most "noble" person of the group, even Jakob, the schoolteacher, is confronted with having to make that choice and take that stand.
A lesser filmmaker would have used this plot setup as an excuse to fill up the screen with cheap melodramatics, screeching car chases, and endless dumb action sequences. Lee, being an actual film artist, does none of that. Instead, he allows the scenes to play themselves out in a totally naturalistic manner so that we really come to know and understand these various characters, with all their unhappiness and sorrow. It is a remarkably melancholy film, sad to the core, and Lee's beautifully controlled direction brings out that sadness. His style perfectly complements the mood he is endeavoring to create. The minimal cutting he employs within each individual scene allows the actors to establish connections with one another that would not be possible using a more razzle dazzle editing style. The dialogue is so rich and evocative that Lee doesn't feel the need to intervene at every moment to remind us he is there. The result is that the film never feels the slightest bit phony, not even for a moment. In fact, "25th Hour" is one of the most "honest" films to have come down the pike in a long long time. Of course, adding to that sense of sadness is the fact that the events of 9/11 seem to forever hover in the air around the characters and their city. There is a particularly remarkable scene in which Jakob and Frank discuss Monty's fate while sitting in front of Frank's apartment window - which just so happens to look directly down onto the rubble of Ground Zero. It is a stunning moment in a film filled with stunning moments.
Adding to the elegiac tone are Terence Blanchard's moody score and Rodrigo Prieto and Joe Williams' marvelously rich and beautiful cinematography, both of which reflect the contemplative nature of the characters on screen. There is some question as to the aptness of the fantasy coda Lee attaches to the end of the film. It isn't so much that we object to the point it is trying to make but rather that the excessive length of it makes it feel somehow redundant and robs us of the sense of emotional fulfillment we need to experience at the film's conclusion. That is, however, a minor quibble in a film as towering in effect and achievement as this one. And besides, Lee's angry young man tirades, though they still rear their heads from time to time, are kept to a bare minimum in this work.
Lee has gathered a brilliant ensemble cast to help flesh out his very real, very complex characters. The superb Edward Norton demonstrates once again why he is in the forefront of the world's great film actors. As Monty, he is, literally, incapable of hitting a single false note. Norton conveys the innate goodness and charm of a man who is about to embark on a phase of his life for which he alone bears responsibility. We can sense the regret, sadness and fear he is feeling in his every word, gesture and glance. Philip Seymour Hoffman and Barry Pepper do stand-up work as Monty's faithful pals, and Rosario Dawson shines with confident dignity as Monty's stalwart true love. All four contribute immensely to the verisimilitude of the piece.
"25 Hours" shows Spike Lee at the very peak of his form, a true master of his medium. This latest work is not merely one of the very best films of 2002, but one of the very best works this gifted artist has yet provided us. Welcome back!
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Movie, Excellent DVD, Excellent Portrayal of NYC, June 9, 2003
Kevin Caffrey (Fredericksburg, VA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: 25th Hour (DVD)
Shot a couple of months after 9/11, Spike Lee's "25th Hour" focuses on Montgomery Brogan's last night of freedom before he goes to jail for 7 years for dealing drugs. Brogan, played by Norton, intends to spend his last night with his girlfriend (Dawson) & two childhood friends (Pepper & Hoffman) at a NYC club where he will have to face the gangsters he has been connected with that believe he may have ratted them out to the police.
"25th Hour" has an intriguing premise, and is executed in an expert, evocative fashion by Lee. This is actually two strong movies in one - a person's last night of freedom before going to jail, but also, a study of a community living with the aftermath of having their home attacked by terrorists. Montgomery Brogan is scared of going to jail, but he also needs to find out who set him up, fearing, that it may have been his girlfriend. The score by Terrance Blanchard is one of the best I've ever heard in a movie - simply beautiful and brutally powerful. This is an emotionally charged movie that is suspenseful, humorous, and beautiful -- qualities that rarely come together quite as well as they do in Spike Lee movies. It is unfortuate that this movie didn't seem to be seen by as many as it should have - I recommend it to everyone I know.
If you're a fan of the movie, the DVD is a must: two commentaries (director; screenwriter), several deleted scenes, a 22 minute special on Lee, and a tasteful, powerful Ground Zero montage.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars My thoughts, May 23, 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: 25th Hour (DVD)
... While reading through the postings about Spike Lee's `25th Hour', though, I was surprised at the number of one and two star ratings. While `25th Hour' definitely has flaws, it doesn't, at least to me, appear to be as atrocious as some say.
...Many believe that the 9/11 scenes have no relevance to the film. While I can respect these opinions, I think I disagree. To me, the whole movie seems to be about the mending of wounds- both physical and mental. The characters must heal from these life long wounds, much like the country healed from that day in September. Many also believe that the mirror scene contains no relevance to the story either. I certainly wasn't the only one that heard many of these same remarks about foreigners shortly after 9/11. The amount of rage at the time was shocking. Many people whom I respect and are genuinely nice people conveyed these hateful feelings. These, too, took time to mend. The scene also reflects the need to blame others. In this scene, Edward Norton's character realizes the fault lies with him.
Anyways, the film certainly has its flaws, but I think the good aspects far outweigh the bad ones. I hope I didn't come off too preachy, but I just wanted to chip in with my two cents worth.... I guess people's tastes vary, but at least it is just a movie. Thanks.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Movie Actually Filmed in NYC? Poppycock!, June 13, 2003
drew m (maryland United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: 25th Hour (DVD)
No one can argue that the two most prolific directors in American movies today are Woody Allen and Spike Lee. But while Allen has spent the past 30 years making the same movie over and over (and over) again, Lee continues to try new things and explore new ideas. Lee may occasionally stumble, but no filmmaker today tackles social issues and human conflict, and the dynamic between the two better than Lee. He is the best director working in America right now, and he's the best filmmaker of his generation. The fact that he is more famous for being a Knick fan than for his film work is a crime, but it doesn't seem to discourage Lee at all.
Take, for example, 25th Hour. Lee is incorrectly reviled by many for being a race baiter. But if he is, would he be making a movie where a black cop harasses a white drug dealer? 25th Hour explores the saga of Monty (Edward Norton) not through some sort of Al Sharpton-colored lens. Instead, it's a carefully woven tale of one man's life and friendships dissolving in a post-9/11 New York that is coming apart itself. The feeling of sadness, anger, rage, and helplessness all felt after 9/11 echo in Monty's anger at both himself and others for his predicament. The celebration that is supposed to be Monty's last night as a free man all too realistically becomes the final cutting of relationship threads that had been slowly fraying for years. Norton's performance displays both anger and ambivalence, particularly in his notorious bathroom rant. Rather than show Monty's tirade as nothing but pure ugliness, Lee turns it into a moment of catharsis before Monty takes responsibility for his own actions. It's natural to lash out at others before finally turning the microscope on yourself, and Monty does it in a private moment designed to provoke himself and no one else. It's a fascinating sequence, and worth seeing 25th Hour for by itself.
But there are other reasons - Barry Pepper, in particular. Pepper, who should have gotten an Oscar nomination, gives a pitch-perfect performance as a hardened young man who's not as indestructible as he thinks he is, even when he's assaulting another man in a gut-wrenching final sequence. As we see Pepper's shell erode, he becomes more recognizable, more human. And he ends up earning our empathy, which seems impossible in the beginning of the movie.
Lee also films New York City better than anyone in the movies today. This is a New York movie - exploring every nuance in the city with 9/11 still, sometimes literally, in the backdrop. Even when the story meanders, Lee always gives you something to look at.
If the end of 25th Hour feels like a copout, it's because it is one of those films, like Cast Away, that condemns itself to an ending that won't please everyone. But even in that moment there is a glimmer of hope that Lee wants to take away from the bleakness of both Monty's life and New York City. As Jimmy Breslin said in Summer of Sam, New York City is a town that you "both love and hate equally". Spike Lee seems to feel the exact same way, and it's that idea - along with its personification in Monty - that makes 25th Hour so compelling.
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25th Hour
25th Hour by Spike Lee (DVD - 2003)
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