25th Hour (2003) Review – Inspirational Movie Monday.

Inspirational Movie Monday – if you had 24 hours to reevaluate your life…how would you do it?

“What do we say to him?”

“We say nothin’ The guys going to hell for seven years, what are we going to do wish him luck?”

Original Release: January 10th, 2003

The first time I saw this movie was at my buddy Robin’s house, he used to do a movie night where we would drink a couple beers and watch a couple films, usually 2 or 3 an evening, it was awesome. I found out about a lot of excellent films from Robin and his movie nights and still continue to do. One evening, he chose 25th Hour, a film I have never heard of but was automatically in because I am a big Edward Norton fan. I was surprised by how great the film was, I really enjoyed it a lot. It’s a film I still watch on a semi-regular basis.

25th Hour is a Drama film about a New York drug dealer, Montgomery Brogan, who gets cornered by the DEA and in the last 24 hours before facing a 7 year jail sentence tries to re-evaluate his life. What follows is a story of redemption and a story of solace. I find weird inspiration in this movie, and thats why I dedicated an Inspirational Movie Monday review to it.

The film is directed by the controversial Spike Lee. I say controversial by what films he decides to make and his views on the “Oscars So White” controversy. I won’t get into that here, but if you want to read up on it:

Spike Lee’s filmography consists of Do The Right Thing (1986), and Inside Man (2006). He’s done way more, but in these filmographies from now on I’m only going to mention the films I have seen as its easier for me to talk about and recommend them to readers as well. I’ve enjoyed the films that I have seen by Spike Lee, he’s done some very interesting stories, I’d like to see Malcolm X (1992) and He Got Game (1998) mainly for Denzel Washington. The thing I like most about Spike Lee’s films is how they’re filmed, he is really good at character development and conversations. He has scenes where you really learn about the sub-characters in depth, you almost learn so much that you feel like they’re becoming main characters. Theres a scene in a Chinese restaurant where Philip Seymour Hoffman (Jacob Elinsky) and Barry Pepper (Frank Slaughtery) are discussing how women find Frank good looking, and he is placed in the 99% tile in dating, where Jacob is in the 60% tile. It’s a very small scene but you figure out how much of an ego Frank  has and how shy and timid Jacob  is. All of Lee’s scenes in his films have a purpose for one reason or another, no matter how long or short they are. Another stand out scene for me is theres a scene of dialogue that takes place in Frank’s apartment where there is a very long camera cut where Frank and Jacob are talking and in the background is ground zero in New York, it takes that scene to a whole different level and sets a tone for the rest of the film. Lee is very good at making the city that they’re filming in part of the character of the movie and makes it more than just a setting, its very much a part of each film. He will linger on city scape scenes or will show where a certain event happened. Theres an undeniable edge throughout the film, and you’re engrossed the whole time.

The film and the book it is based on is written by David Benioff. Benioff’s filmography consists of one episode of It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia (2005-) and for those who are fans of the series, Benioff is one of the creators of the famous HBO series Game of Thrones (2011-). There is no denying that Benioff is a very talented writer, I thought that 25th Hour was extremely well written. Each character had a really subtle but effective character arch, and the dialogue didn’t sound cheesy. I thought Lee and Benioff was a perfect match. I think a stand out piece of dialogue and honestly one of my favourite scenes in the movie was a scene where Monty (Edward Norton) goes on a 5 minute rant about the people and situations that make up New York at the time, and the ongoing tension that fills the city. It’s not only an extremely well written rant, that we’re shocked to see when it starts, but its so interestingly filmed that it makes it more impactful. I thought the writing of this film was well done, but there is definitely some issues near the middle and end where the pacing goes all over the place. I’m not sure if it was just the script or how it was filmed, but even the first time I noticed this.

The film stars Edward Norton as Montgomery Brogan, Philip Seymour Hoffman as Jacob Elinsky, Barry Pepper as Frank Slaughtery, Rosario Dawson as Naturelle Rivera, Anna Paquin as Mary D’Annunzio and Brian Cox as James Brogan.

Edward Norton’s Filmography consists of Primal Fear (1996), Rounders (1998), American History X (1998), Fight Club (1999), The Score (2001), The Italian Job (2003), Pride and Glory (2008), Moonrise Kingdom (2012), The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014), Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (2014), and Sausage Party (2016). Edward Norton always steals the show whenever he acts and its always a pleasure to watch something he’s in because I know that he’ll be a force to be reckoned with. I think he can truly play any character and act in any genre. He can do these really dramatic films or he can surprise you and do really hilarious and over the top characters in other roles. He was amazing in this movie and its really hard to imagine anyone else playing Montgomery Brogan.

Philip Seymour Hoffman’s filmography consists of Twister (1996), Boogie Nights (1997), Patch Adams (1998), The Big Lebowski (1998), Magnolia (1999), Almost Famous (2000), Capote (2005), Mission: Impossible III (2006), The Ides Of March (2011), Moneyball (2011), and A Most Wanted Man (2014). I still think Hoffman is an underrated actor who was taken from the world too soon. He was superb in this movie, subtle and not over the top but you could really see yourself in his shoes, I think that was a gift he had because I could really side with him on most of the films he acted in. If you love Philip Seymour Hoffman, definitely watch Capote (2005), which is my favourite film he was in and it won him his first (and only) Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role Oscar.

Barry Pepper’s filmography consists of Saving Private Ryan (1998), The Green Mile (1999), and Seven Pounds (2008). I’ll always remember Barry Pepper in Saving Private Ryan, he played the sniper that would pray to God and then was able to make these really incredible sniper shots. He’s very underrated as well, I thought he was excellent in this movie, and played off of Norton and Hoffman very well. He was an asshole, but he played the asshole card very well. However I felt he was the most uneven in his portrayal of his character, some of the scenes he was in felt a little flat to me, and I thought his character was the most loose in the film.

Rosario Dawson’s filmography consists of Men In Black II (2002), The Rundown (2003), Sin City (2005), Clerks II (2006), Death Proof (2007), Seven Pounds (2008), Eagle Eye (2008), Raze (2013), Sin City: A Dame To Kill For (2014), DareDevil (TV-2015-2016), Ratchet & Clank (Film and Game 2016). Dawson’s character in this movie was one of my favourites and this is probably the best movie role she has done. She had excellent chemistry with Edward Norton. I thought her acting was very subtle, but really impactful. You fell in love with her beauty and grace.

Brian Cox’s filmography consists of Braveheart (1995), Super Troopers (2001), The Rookie (2002), Adaptation (2002), The Ring (2002), The Bourne Identity (2002), Manhunt (Video Game – 2003), X2: X-Men United (2003), Killzone (Game Series – 2004, 2009, 2011), The Bourne Supremacy (2004), Red Eye (2005), Trick r’ Treat (2007), Zodiac (2007), and Her (2013). I love Brian Cox, his voice is just amazing and I think Spike Lee knew that and he used it to his advantage in the film. You had these long winded dialogues that were dominated by the voice of Brian Cox, and even the ending of the film, the voice over work was all done by him. He wasn’t a huge character in this movie, but when he talked you paid attention.

I thought the cast of this film was the stand out element overall. The three friends played by Edward Norton, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Barry Pepper had great chemistry when they were on screen together, like they have been living in this world for years. You also had the excellent chemistry of Monty and Naturelle (Norton and Dawson) that was really subtle but a very needed feature of this movie. Not all the characters were perfect as I said with Barry Pepper, but I thought that the acting was the real show piece of this film.

I felt inspired by this movie, which is weird due to the subject matter. But I thought after this movie that if I had 24 hours to try to fix my relationships in my life that I may have screwed up or forgot about, where would I start? Would I try to talk to everyone before I couldn’t anymore? Would there be relationships that I wouldn’t bother trying to fix? There was a lot of questions that I had after it about myself. It inspired me to live now, not in the past, not down the line, but right now, because we never know in life whats going to happen, what is going to change. We can’t be positive all the time, but we can find solace and redemption in those people that we are close to, whether they be your best friend, your significant other or your family. It also shows the bond of family in a subtle way that really reinforced the image of a family will do anything to help you, and the bond of family is unbroken. It also taught me and inspired me what to value in life, and what to let go, what is worth fighting for and what is worth letting it go by the wayside. The inspiration is subtle, but the message expands way passed the film for me. You can’t fix everything, you can try, but not fixing it doesn’t mean you’re a failure, it means that life has a different path for you.

25th Hour gets a 4/5 from me. The pacing and some of the acting is where I took the point off, but its still a great film and I do recommend it.

Until Next Time, Stay Inspired!


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