the 25th hour

review of the prison drama

The 25th hour
Ok, stop me if you've heard this one before. Edward Norton is playing a character questioning the meaning of his life. You have? You're saying he's like that in every movie ever made? hmmmm... well, how about this: Phillip Seymour Hoffman is paying an annoying and creepy short guy. You've heard that a million times too? Well, what if we threw them into the same movie, and added a plot about Edward Norton going to prison, and Hoffman falling in love with teenage girls. Hah! You've never heard that before, have you?

The 25th hour is a slow, but ultimately poignant story about a man's last day before he goes to prison.On this last day, he introduces us to some memorable and quirky characters, each facing their own difficult situations. Director Spike Lee adds depth to characters that makes them more human and easier to relate to, even Hoffman and his creepy love for a sixteen year old girl. Also, I don't know if it was just me, but I really began to suspect the dog knew way more than he was telling. Just the way he always walked around on a leash and begged for treats really got me questioning his motives. But that's just me. The movie's imagery is also supposed to evoke memories and thoughts of 9/11, and the dialogue contains subtle allusions to American unity. Now, let's begin to look closer at "the 25th hour."  

            The film begins with Monty Brogan (Edward Norton), a drug dealer for the Russian mob, and his fat Russian friend finding a badly beaten dog in a garage. Monty, strangely attached to the creature, keeps it, and names it Doyle, after a confusing argument with the fat guy. I’ve forgotten his name, so I will just refer to him as "fat guy" since "sausage with a beard" seems a little harsh.Years later, Monty has been indicted and tried for selling drugs, and has been sentenced to seven years in prison. Before he is locked up, however, he wants to spend one last day with his friends Jacob and Frank and his girlfriend, Naturel (though one look at her reveals she is anything but “natural”).  Monty's friends want to support him, but each has their own problems. Naturel seems deceitful and Monty suspects she may have sold him out. Jacob, a high-school teacher, falls in love with one of his students, who tags along at Monty’s party. Monty isn’t sure what to do with his beloved dog. And Frank feels guilty for wanting Monty to learn his lesson by serving time in jail. The movie is about how each character faces these problems, and tries to overcome them. Some characters don’t overcome them, and make the dumbest choice since that director cast Wilford Brimley as James Bond in the new movie (one which will never be released, and Hollywood has gone to great lengths to destroy).           

The movie is powerful. It shows the extent of human emotions, the way fear, anger, envy, lust and love interact with each other. All the actors give good performances, even the fat guy with the bad Russian accent. That said, “The 25th Hour” isn’t perfect. It’s VERY slow, and may have been better suited as a play. It doesn’t use all of the New York scenery to its advantage, sticking mostly to a few limited sets. Since the real dilemma isn’t introduced until the very end, the movie’s meandering plot can be tedious to the impatient viewer. Those who stick with it, however, will be rewarded by memorable acting and a thought-provoking plot. I give this a 7/10. 


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Lisa Buchman January 22, 2013 at 01:00 AM
Thanks for the review Riley! Anyone else see this film? Agree with the review, or no?


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