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25th Hour /

Rated: R
Starring: Edward Norton, Barry Pepper, Rosario Dawson, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Brian Cox
Directed by: Spike Lee
Produced by: Julia Chasman, Jon Kilik, Spike Lee, Tobey Maguire, Nick Wechsler
Written by David Benioff

Distributor: Touchstone Pictures


Movie Image

Movie Image

Movie Image

     25th Hour is a visually magical film, even though there is no magic in its content. Spike Lee’s wonderful direction follows this realistic portrait of a man’s last free day, before being locked behind bars for seven years. Lee executes with a beautifully unique vision, and every shot has its own distinct look. From the opening until the end, we are intrigued by every turn that the story makes, as well as every tilt that the camera makes. The beautiful direction isn’t all that makes this film good, though. To accompany Lee’s talents there is a great screenplay, crisp production, and tons of great performances. This is another one of the best movies of the year; it is a full-fledged knockout.

     As the story follows this man’s (Edward Norton) last day before being incarcerated, there comes a slur of clips from his past that move beautifully along with the video set in present time. We find out that his name is Monty Brogan, and that he is a former drug dealer. With his attack dog that he discovered half-dead on the side of the road, expensive car, and girlfriend, Naturelle (Rosario Dawson), that gets everything that she wants; the drug dealing business did have its advantages money-wise. Jail time would be terrible for a pretty-boy drug dealer like Monty, and he really wants to find some way to get out of going to the big-house. As he and his friends (Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Berry Pepper) chat on his last night out, they see that he has three options. One: he can take his chances and serve the time. Two: he can put a bullet through his head and commit suicide. Three: he can run, and take on a new life. Just when we think that he is going to go down one road, he tries another.

     As I described before, Spike Lee’s direction and production are so wonderful, all of the movie’s flaws are covered up by them. The opening scene is particularly bizarre, but has a great look, that leaves us hooked to what he has to offer for the rest of the movie. The unique coloration that Lee uses is especially enjoyable, as well. Each scene has a different look, and this makes the entire film uniquely beneficial. Many of the overhead panorama shots used are very intricately done, too. Lee doesn’t just tingle our senses with these, he plays with our emotions; a skill that all great directors have. In 25th Hour, Lee mingles with the combination of reality and unrealistic happenings to produce a mind-blowing result.

     There is not only one performance in 25th Hour that is memorable, but four. Edward Norton, who plays Monty, is absolutely fantastic. This is one of his best performances of all time. He is fabulous and strong in a powerful rally of “f*ck you’s” against the government and society. Even though he says some pretty hateful things, we don’t sense that there is real-life animosity behind the dialogue, so no one is offended by the otherwise discriminative content. This is excellent acting, though, and we believe that what is coming out of his characters mouth are real feelings. Phillip Seymour Hoffman is also great as Jakob Elinsky. Elinsky is an odd, but not quite perverted school teacher who falls in love with his piercing-obsessed, sex-bunny student. Barry Pepper does a handsome job as Frank Slaughtery, Monty’s “rich and good looking” friend. He combines the right amount of intelligence and craziness to make a well-balanced performance. Finally, Rosario Dawson is excellent, and sexy, as Naturelle Rivera, Monty’s girlfriend. This film is a colorful painting of acting at its best.

     The screenplay, by David Benioff, based off of his book, is outstanding. All of the dialogue is incredibly well though out, and acts as support for all of the great performances. The wording in each scenario is absolutely stunning, and Benioff’s swift screenplay is an overall knockout. The colorful and visionary writing combines, and contrasts, with Lee’s direction and production so well that watching the film unfold is pure madness. I would love to see more excellent collaborations, like this one, come out of the movie industry – these days they are extremely hard to come by. This film has a beautiful concept and an extremely well-executed plot; it represents cinema at its best!

     25th Hour is one of the most enriching and climatic experiences of the year. The bizarre, fresh, and interesting direction by Lee is amazing. Performances by Hoffman, Norton, Dawson, and Pepper light up the well-written screenplay by Benioff. Everything is perfect about this one of a kind film; the pacing, the lighting, the speech, which is only accomplishable by the magnificent cast and crew. This is one of the five best films of the year.

-Danny, Bucket Reviews

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