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With: Edward Norton, Rosario Dawson, Barry Pepper, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Anna Paquin, Brian Cox
Written by: David Benioff, based on his own novel
Directed by: Spike Lee
MPAA Rating: R for strong language and some violence
Running Time: 135
Date: 12/15/2002

25th Hour (2002)

4 Stars (out of 4)


By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Director Spike Lee always comes through with interesting, explosive ideas even if they don't always jell. This time he's delivered his best, most cohesive and most passionate film since Do the Right Thing. Edward Norton gives one of his finest performances as Monty, an accused drug dealer who spends his last 24 hours on the streets of New York City before going to prison for seven years.

He settles his affairs with his best friends, a bond trader, Frank (Barry Pepper), and a poetry teacher, Jacob (Philip Seymour Hoffman), as well as his girlfriend Naturelle (Rosario Dawson) and his father (Brian Cox). Not to mention figuring out who it was that narced on him. Lee and screenwriter David Benioff weave in post-9/11 elements; Frank's expensive apartment overlooks the remains of Ground Zero. This gives the film an extra level of melancholy, a sense of endings and new beginnings. Extraordinary. Anna Paquin plays one of Jacob's more sexually potent students.

Note: If I could do it again, I would find a way to shoehorn Spike Lee's 25th Hour onto my ten-best list for 2002. I listed it as a runner-up, but I upon viewing the DVD, I find that its images and characters haunted me far deeper that I anticipated during that busy December season. The new disc comes with a Lee commentary track, plus deleted scenes, featurettes and a second commentary track by the author/screenwriter David Benioff.

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