25th Hour is a slightly dark film. Monty (Norton, superb throughout) has 24 hours before he is sent to jail for 7 years. Before he goes, he's desperate to rekindle his relationship's with his father (Brian Cox) and his two best friends (Pepper and Hoffman). At the same time he has to try and figure out who tipped off the police, and inturn sent him to jail. Suspicious of his girlfriend (Dawson), he has an interesting day ahead of him.
What I found enjoyable with this film was the relationships between the characters. You could easily emote with all of them, feeling sympathy for Monty and his girlfriend, as well as sensing the awkward situation his friends and father in.
Needless to say, the day is very interesting as Monty goes through all the emotions he can, while enjoying himself. But it's the ending that makes this film for me. Completely unexpected but genuinely rewarding for the audience. I recommend this film very highly if you like strong gritty drama's. The actors are superb and overall this is a thoroughly enjoyable film.
4* (Watch if you enjoyed: Risky Business, Donnie Darko or Rules of Attraction - it's a drama about people in precarious situations, and their relationships between one another).
This is a great film. Monty’s story makes you think of friendships, loyalties and loved ones. Its about the choices we make in life and their possible consequences. Its about ‘what ifs’ and wrong roads gone down.
Edward Norton (‘American History X’) is as ever excellent. Philip Seymour Hoffman (‘The Talented Mr Ripley’) and Barry Pepper (‘The Green Mile’) as Monty’s pals are equally believable. Spike Lee’s direction is spot on, keeping things interesting and edgy. Some nice editing techniques too.
One minor criticism is the storylines assertion of what is likely to happen to Monty once incarcerated. This has, perhaps, been a little over used in ‘prison’ films.
To sum up, an excellent film and a DVD I intend to buy. The ending is memorable and poignant.
Yes, the protagonist is not only a drug dealer who has made a great deal money from his trade, he's also been arrested and sentenced - not a great deal for the audience to root for.
However, it's testament to Norton's performance and Lee's direction that what could have been a by the numbers "loser seeks redemption" feature ends with genuine feelings of sympathy for such a complicated character. The final scene, where Monty's dad (an assured Brian Cox) drives Monty to jail, is an absolute stand out, with a beautifully realised 'what if' segment and a final line that resonates long after the film has finished.
Lee excels by ably increasing Monty's dread while making the film a visual treat (the nightclub scene showcases his unique brilliance). By adding the aftermath of 9/11 to the script (one scene takes placed looking at the twin towers' site), Lee also seeks to address New York's feelings on the post 9/11 recovery, intertwined (but not heavily handed) with Monty's predicament in as subtle and intelligent way as I have seen done.
The supporting cast are all pivotal cogs to the film, backed up by Benioff's in turns blistering and moving script. Pepper and Hoffman's scenes together, for example, subtly give you a full understanding of their characters histories over 2 scenes containing dialogue that's at times hilarious and brutal, while Rosario Dawson is stunning and vulnerable as the wronged / wrong-doing Naturelle.
In my view, this film follows smoothly on from He Got Game for Lee (ignoring Summer of Sam, Bamboozled etc) in that it is built around the choices we make, the regrets they bring and the complicated relationships surrounding fathers and sons, and friends that are as close as family.
Add a fantastic soundtrack (although you can't buy the tunes that feature, only the orchestral music) and 25th Hour is a film that once you have seen, you'll want to see again. Great extras too, including an extended featurette on Lee (not enough on 25th Hour in it though) and two great commentaries by Benioff and Lee.
As with all great films, you are not supplied with a simple 'A to B' plot, all neatly wrapped up, but a film that leaves you pondering everything that you have seen before long after the DVD has been switched off.
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