Review by: Jack Foley | Rating:
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Commentary by Spike Lee; Commentary
by writer/author David Benioff; Deleted scenes; 'The Evolution
of an American Filmmaker' featurette; Ground Zero: A Tribute.
DRUG dealer, Monty Brogan, is a man who had it all. A plush apartment,
a gorgeous girlfriend and a life that opened doors to the best
clubs in New York. Yet now he is going to jail for seven years
and has only 24 hours to try and patch things up with his father,
hang out with his oldest friends and try and find out who tipped
off the cops.
Written by David Benioff, and directed by Spike Lee, The 25th
Hour is a truly addictive piece of cinema, one which works both
as a riveting character study into one mans choices, and
as a gritty social commentary on the state of New York, post-September
Opening with various shots of the NY skyline, with spotlights
marking the place where the Twin Towers once stood, the film seldom
loses its grip, serving as both a timely reminder of the events
of that terrible day and of Lees long overloooked talent
as a director.
How far viewers want to run with the character of Brogan as a
metaphor for the Big Apple, or the United States as a whole, is
left to the viewer, for the story is told in such a way that it
never becomes overbearing, laboured or, crucially in this day
and age, overly patriotic.
And who better to take on the role of Brogan than Edward Norton,
an actor who has seldom shyed away from portraying difficult characters,
and who turns in a tour-de-force as the dealer in question - a
man faced with the prospect of a jail term from which he might
never return, yet desperate to atone for the sins
of a selfish life.
His frustration and rage is eventually unleashed in a quite stunning
sequence in the toilet of his fathers bar, when he furiously
vents his anger at all of New Yorks inhabitants before turning
the vitriol on himself.
The support cast, too, provide plenty for Norton to work with,
most notably the ever-reliable Philip Seymour Hoffman and Barry
Pepper, as, respectively, a teacher struggling to come to terms
with the attentions of an alluring student (Anna Paquin) and a
Wall Street hotshot who figures Brogan has got what he deserves.
Brian Cox is also terrific, as Brogans father, a former
firefighter who has never given up hope on his son, while Rosario
Dawson rises above her good looks to deliver a suitably feisty
turn as Brogans long-time girlfriend - considered by many
to be the one who gave him up to the cops.
Lees direction also contains some bravura moments, most
notably a scene overlooking Ground Zero just after September 11
in which Hoffman and Pepper discuss the choices facing Brogan,
and the final act between the friends, which is as shocking as
it is heartbreaking.
And the final praise must go to writer, Benioff, himself, who
has adapted the screenplay from his own novel to produce a lasting,
honest and powerful character study that contains an emotional
intensity rarely seen in mainstream cinema.