25th Hour (VHS, 2003)

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"Mr. Brogan I do believe you're f-cked."

May 5, 2004 (Updated May 5, 2004)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Spike Lee, Edward Norton, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Brian Cox, Barry Pepper, and Isiah Whitlock Jr.

Cons:None that I can think of.

The Bottom Line: Spike Lee's brilliant look at both a post-9/11 New York and a drug dealer facing seven years in prison.


25TH HOUR is the first movie set in New York after 9/11. Before making it, Spike Lee knew he had a responsibility to portray it as a different New York than the one featured in his other films. We are truly living in a different era now.

There is an interesting parallel between Monty (Edward Norton) and modern New York. Monty’s downfall occurs sometime between the first scene and the opening credits, as does the destruction of the Twin Towers. In 25TH HOUR, Monty tries to figure out what has happened to him, to put the pieces together, much like the American people after 9/11. Monty is really just a microcosm of what is happening to an entire country.

It’s interesting to know, though, that the book the movie was based on was written before 9/11, so the correlation between Monty and New York was added sometime in the screenwriting stages.

I immediately identified with Monty, as we all have experienced that specific kind of anxiety that occurs after something bad has happened, but before we’ve faced the consequences (again with the parallel to 9/11). I know I felt that way the morning after my parents caught me drinking.

Another highlight of the film has to be the famous "F-you" speech. This is an important moment for Monty, and again, it’s very true to how people act after they’ve messed up. In the scene, he blames everybody: Koreans, Russians, Asians, African Americans, his father, his friends, and his girlfriend. But, the critical moment comes at the very end of the speech where he blames himself. Monty realizes that it wasn’t anybody else - he screwed up, and now he has to pay for it. Monty may be a drug dealer, but Spike Lee always avoids glamorizing his life (he also did this with Mekhi Phifer’s character in CLOCKERS), which I feel sets it apart from all those rise to power gangster movies. The main difference being that the rise to power part of Monty’s life is left as part of the backstory.

As always, Spike Lee brings together a fantastic ensemble of actors. Edward Norton, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Brian Cox are expectedly great, but the person who surprised me the most was Barry Pepper. Before watching this, I had only seen him in KNOCKAROUND GUYS, so I didn’t expect much. But, man, this guy really can act. Another great performance comes from Isiah Whitlock Jr. He has one of those lines that everybody loves to say after seeing the movie.

I’ve seen this movie twice, and both times I was completely enthralled. As Terry Rossio, the writer of SHREK and PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN once said (I don’t know the exact quote), good movies can make three hours seem like an hour and a half, and bad movies can make an hour and a half seem like three hours.

While it’s very different than most of Spike Lee’s movies, it’s one of his best. It’s also more mainstream than his other work, so I believe more people will be able to identify with it. If you haven’t already, watch it.


Recommend this product? Yes

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