One of the best films of the 2000s, one of director Spike Lee’s best films, and one that is … sadly … almost completely forgotten these days, “25th Hour” is a tremendously powerful drama about the last day of freedom for a drug dealer, played by Edward Norton, before going to prison for 7 years. Based on David Benioff’s novel (who also wrote the screenplay), “25th Hour” is an incredibly complex look at family, friendship, morals, the legal system, and culture … specifically a post-9/11 New York City. The performances by Norton, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Barry Pepper, Rosario Dawson, Brian Cox, and Anna Paquin are all extraordinary and Oscar-worthy. The editing is superb, the script is intense, and the ominous music composed by Terrence Blanchard is one of the finest scores I’ve ever heard for a dramatic film.
Despite how great this movie is, I can understand why it’s not that popular. Despite many moments of dark humor, it’s an extremely troubling and depressing film. Because it’s about guilt … it’s about regret … its about that feeling where you wish life had a rewind button for actions or inactions. But this is truly an amazing film and worthy of your attention.
Probably the best scene in the film is when Norton’s character delivers an angry, beyond politically incorrect 5-minute diatribe about every social, ethnic, and economic groups in New York City. It was part of the original novel, and ironically, Benioff said it was inspired by a similar rant from Lee’s “Do the Right Thing.” However, when he wrote the original draft of the script, he sheepishly left it out because he was afraid of what Lee would say. However, Lee loved it and insisted it be put back in. The rant may be considered highly offensive, but you must watch it until the end when Norton’s character turns the anger back on himself and realizes he’s the one responsible for his fate. Again, powerful stuff.