Director: Spike Lee Run Time: 134 min. Format: 35mm Rating: R Release Year: 2002
Starring: Ed Norton, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Barry Pepper, Rosario Dawson, Anna Paquin, Brian Cox
Ten years after MALCOLM X, and only one year after 9/11, Spike Lee brings us back to Manhattan for an adaptation of David Benioff’s novel 25th HOUR.
One of the few Spike films with a majority White cast, 25th HOUR tells the story of Monty Brogan (played with sharpness and ferocity by Edward Norton) in his last 24 hours before he begins a seven year prison sentence for dealing drugs. Surrounded by his two best friends (played by Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Barry Pepper, both giving us excellent work as always), and his girlfriend (Rosario Dawson, in her second Spike Lee performance), Monty takes his last 24 to contemplate his life choices, and tries to figure out if someone in his inner circle ratted on him.
25th HOUR takes Spike into new territory, mostly working with a different crew behind the scenes, with a screenplay he did not write. These differences give the film a sense of individuality within his filmography, even though many of his typical directorial flairs are left intact. The grief that Lee felt for his city after the September 11th attacks can be felt throughout the film, and his insistence on including the tragedy within the story makes the work all the more poignant.