Review by Paul Stathakis | 2002

Things to do before going away

The events of Sep­tem­ber 11 have shat­tered and changed the world. They have changed the world in such a way that peo­ple look at oth­ers dif­fer­ent­ly, now more than ever, and ulti­mate­ly judge them by their eth­nic­i­ty. Peo­ple around the world have dif­fer­ent opin­ions and beliefs and they view sit­u­a­tions from dif­fer­ent angles. Even Hol­ly­wood feels the need to break through and com­ment on Amer­i­ca and its present con­di­tion. In fact, “25th Hour” is Spike Lee’s most con­tro­ver­sial film to date. Lee shares his views with audi­ences and they are quite bru­tal. They are also direct and shock­ing. But he clev­er­ly attach­es a sto­ry with his message.

Mon­ty Bro­gan (Edward Nor­ton) has twen­ty-four hours to decide how to spend his last day of free­dom before start­ing a sev­en-year prison term. That won’t be easy, because Mon­ty has to divide his remain­ing time between his two best friends, Frank and Jacob, his father, and his girlfriend.

Frank (Bar­ry Pep­per) is an invest­ment banker who acts tough and cool but is real­ly quite sen­si­tive. Jacob (Philip Sey­mour Hoff­man) is a high school Eng­lish teacher who believes one of his stu­dents (Anna Paquin) would like a clos­er rela­tion­ship with him. I respect­ed Pep­per before this film, but now appre­ci­ate him even more. He has a promi­nent role and gives such a real­is­tic per­for­mance you actu­al­ly believe that he and Mon­ty are best friends. The same goes for Hoff­man. Hoff­man is a spe­cial actor. He is known for play­ing emo­tion­al­ly chal­lenged char­ac­ters and this movie is no excep­tion. Both friends don’t know how to deal with the fact that there friend is on his way to prison.

25th Hour” is Spike Lee’s touch­ing trib­ute to New York. There is always a small ele­ment, present in the film, which reminds us of 9/11. Frank’s apart­ment over­looks the spot where the World Trade Cen­ter once stood. Lee focus­es on work­ers who are seen gath­er­ing the remain­ing debris of the build­ings. Jacob even wears a New York Yan­kees cap. It all adds up. Jacob asks Frank what they should say to Mon­ty and Frank answers, “He’s going to hell for sev­en years. What are we going to do? Wish him good luck?”

Mon­ty’s father, James Bro­gan, is played by Bri­an Cox. James oper­ates a lit­tle bar, which pays trib­ute to the fire­fight­ers who gave their lives on Sep­tem­ber 11. Cox is a warm­ing actor, who is incred­i­bly nat­ur­al. Cast in a min­i­mal role here, he makes the best out his role and becomes an impor­tant part of the movie.

Through­out the film, Mon­ty keeps won­der­ing who could’ve rat­ted him out and told the drug inspec­tors where to find cocaine in his apart­ment. The one per­son he sus­pects most is his girl­friend Naturelle (Rosario Daw­son). She appears to be sweet and lov­ing, but is that who she real­ly is? Is she still the same inno­cent teenag­er that Mon­ty fell in love with? Can she be trust­ed? Who can?

All char­ac­ters have his­to­ries and these actors play ones with dark pasts. They feel regret and guilt con­cern­ing Mon­ty’s depar­ture. This is some­thing that makes the “25th Hour” more sol­id and mem­o­rable. Spike Lee nev­er reveals too much in his trail­ers, because he saves the best for the screen­ing. “25th Hour” is a film any­one will hold close to their hearts. It’s a lit­tle too melo­dra­mat­ic at times and cer­tain scenes just don’t blend in with the rest. But, in the end, it pays off is so many ways. So, what will Mon­ty do? Will he pack his bags and flee? Or will he face prison life? These were ques­tions I asked myself before watch­ing the “25th Hour”. I got my answers. “You can­not stop New York” reads a sign in the movie. Same goes for Spike Lee. No one can stop him from pro­duc­ing qual­i­ty films.


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