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25th Hour
2002 - R - 134 Mins.
Director: Spike Lee
Producer: Julia Chasman, Jon Kilik, Spike Lee, Tobey Maguire, Nick Wechsler
Written By: David Benioff
Starring: Edward Norton, Barry Pepper, Rosario Dawson, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Brian Cox
Review by: David Trier
   
This is a good title for a movie that drones on and on, threatening several times to end before finally letting me out of my seat.

Montgomery Brogan (Edward Norton) has reached a crossroads in his life. Finally ready to give up being a drug dealer and settle down with his hot girlfriend Naturelle (Rosario Dawson), the DEA nabs him red-handed with a stash of drugs and money in his sofa. It really is amazing how much stuff gets lost in there. This one time I found enough to do my laundry, but this guy’s a professional! Anyway, he has a full day before being sent off to prison for seven years, so he decides to bid farewell with a nightclub party. In attendance are his tightly-wound professor friend Jakob (Phillip Seymour Hoffman), a slutty high school student (Anna Paquin), and his lifelong broker friend Francis (Barry Pepper). After some debate over who ratted Monty out, and some sentimental talks with his bartending father (Brian Cox), our hero must decide if he’s going to accept his fate and do his time or run away and never come back.

Although not as poorly cast as he was in Red Dragon, Norton still can’t break away from the cuteness of Keeping the Faith and find the toughness of his American History X. What we’re left with is a competent and acceptable performance that’s completely forgettable. Stealing the show however, is Barry Pepper, whose character is very well-written and believable and enables him to deliver some intensely involving performances. Hoffman offers up a shade of characters we’ve seen him do many times in the past and, like Norton, dos a good but forgettable job. He’s at a disadvantage from the outset since it’s extremely hard to believe that his character would be friends with any of the other main characters who consistently disrespect and ridicule him. His subplot of struggling with lust for his young student is not only cliché but ultimately irrelevant to the story. Both Dawson and Cox give believable performances but the film’s lack of plot makes the whole endeavor a bit tiring.

The dialogue is generally authentic, but the scenes are relentlessly long, not unlike those one would see in an acting class filled with competent professionals. If all of this added up to a meaningful story, it might be worthwhile. But nothing in 25th Hour really sells the idea that we should care what happens to Monty and the “con-bids-farewell” plot is not clever or intriguing enough to warrant 134 minutes of film.

It’s been over ten years since Spike Lee made a film worth remembering his name and although Barry Pepper may deserve recognition for his powerful performance, this film isn’t particularly special.
 
Movie Guru Rating
Average but solid.  Fans of this genre will probably enjoy it.  Others may not. Average but solid.  Fans of this genre will probably enjoy it.  Others may not. Average but solid.  Fans of this genre will probably enjoy it.  Others may not.
  3 out of 5 stars

 
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