Blu-ray and DVD Reviews

25th Hour

Reviewed by: Scott Chitwood
Movie Rating:
5 out of 10
Extras Rating:
5 out of 10
Movie Details:
View here

Starring:
Edward Norton as Montgomery 'Monty' Brogan
Philip Seymour Hoffman as Jacob Elinsky
Barry Pepper as Francis Xavier Slaughtery
Rosario Dawson as Naturelle Riviera
Anna Paquin as Mary D'Annuzio
Brian Cox as James Brogan
Tony Siragusa as Kostya Novotny
Levani Outchaneichvili as Uncle Nikolai
Tony Devon as Agent Allen
Misha Kuznetsov as Senka Valghobek
Isiah Whitlock Jr. as Agent Flood
Michael Genet as Agent Cunningham
Patrice O'Neal as Khari
Al Palagonia as Salvatore Dominick
Aaron Stanford as Marcuse

Special Features:
- Deleted Scenes
- Audio Commentary With Director Spike Lee
- Audio Commentary With Writer David Benioff
- "The Evolution Of An American Filmmaker" Featurette
- "Ground Zero" - A Tribute

Other Info:
Widescreen (2.35:1) - Enhanced for 16x9 Televisions
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
THX Certified
French Language Track
Running Time: 135 Minutes

Synopsis:
In 25 hours, Monty Brogan is going to be sent away to prison for seven years. He was finally busted for being a drug dealer on the street. Before he goes to prison, he plans to party with his two childhood friends, make amends with his father, and say goodbye to his girlfriend whom he suspects of turning him in to the police. As he bids farewell to his fancy lifestyle, the cold, harsh reality of prison looms over him.

"25th Hour" is rated R for strong language and some violence.

The Movie:
I'm not a fan of Spike Lee's films. I've never really gotten much out of them, so "25th Hour" was of very little interest to me. The subject matter of his films have very little appeal to my personal tastes. However, I thought "25th Hour" was a bit better than his other films for no other reason than the fantastic cast.

Edward Norton leads this ensemble cast. If you're familiar with his work then you know he's an excellent, passionate actor. His performance in this film is no different. Norton is able to make you sympathetic to his drug dealer character despite the fact that he deserves going to prison. Barry Pepper redeems himself from Battlefield Earth in the role of Monty's stockbroker friend. He's egotistical, shallow, and has a loud mouth. Philip Seymour Hoffman rounds out the trio of friends as the restrained schoolteacher. It's a rather reserved role for him, but he's good at it. He pines for Anna Paquin who plays a student in his class. It's rather creepy (and illegal) for him to fall for her, but Paquin plays her with wild, sexy enthusiasm so that you almost understand why he's tempted. Rosario Dawson really stands out as Naturelle Riviera, Norton's girlfriend. She didn't get to do much in Men In Black II, but she's fantastic in this role. Dawson expresses joy, sadness, guilt, and love in her role. She convincingly plays both an adult and an 18 year old in a flashback. It's quite a breakout role for her and I hope to see her in other films in the future.

(On a bizarre side note, fans of X-Men will want to take notice of this film. It stars Anna Paquin who plays Rogue, Brian Cox who played Stryker, and Aaron Stanford who played Pyro. Norton's character even says at one point, "I wish I were like that girl in X-Men. The one that could walk through walls.")

Despite the fantastic cast, I didn't get much out of the plot. The film is set in post-9/11 New York City. There are frequent shots of firefighters, 9/11 memorials, and even a lengthy scene at Ground Zero. However, I didn't understand the connection to the story. I suppose the story is about bouncing back in the aftermath of a devastating blow, but that analogy only goes a limited distance. At one point I thought Norton's character represented New York, but that was repeatedly proven wrong. He even goes into a lengthy racist rant about all the minorities, races, and politics in the city, but I never saw the reasoning for it. Even the sub plot of Hoffman and Paquin's forbidden romance never seemed resolved to me.

In the end I thought the film was long, dark, depressing, and pointless. It didn't suit my personal tastes.

The Extras:
There are a small handful of extras on this DVD. Here are some highlights:

Deleted Scenes - There are about 7 deleted scenes on this DVD. One features Naturelle talking to her mother about Monty (accompanied by a flashback). Another features the drug lords debating whether or not Monty ratted them out. Another scene features Anna Paquin's character acting out a death scene she has in the school play. However, the most notable cut scenes are from a series of shots entitled "Sway". Each of the major characters in the film has a camera strapped to them. As they walk around, they appear still while the background moves around. As they move, they talk about what their definition of "sway", or power, is. It's quite an odd effect, but visually striking. I must say, though, that the scenes don't fit in with the rest of the story and they are better off on the cutting room floor.

Audio Commentary With Director Spike Lee - Lee delivers a very dry commentary. He mainly discusses the technical aspects of making the film, setting up the imagery, the crew, etc. I was hoping for a little more insight into the plot.

Audio Commentary With Writer David Benioff - As dry as Lee's commentary is, Benioff's is even drier. His voice is a quiet monotone throughout the film and he gets into a lot of the technical aspects of scriptwriting and novel writing. Both of these commentaries are only for the most die-hard Lee fans.

"The Evolution Of An American Filmmaker" Featurette - This 25 minute video spends about 15 minutes talking about Spike Lee and his previous films. Celebrities like Denzel Washington, Halle Berry, Martin Scorcese, Wesley Snipes, and others fawn over the director and talk about what it was like filming with him. The last 10 minutes of the film discusses "25th Hour". The cast of this film also fawns over Lee and discuss their roles in the film. If you're looking for a behind-the-scenes feature on the making of "25th Hour", this doesn't offer that much. However, it is interesting to note how Spike Lee has kicked off the careers of many big name stars.

"Ground Zero" - A Tribute - This is about a five-minute series of video clips from in and around ground zero in New York. They show construction workers working, memorials on the street, and more. It is set to music with no dialogue. It's interesting, but it didn't do much for me.

The Bottom Line:
This DVD is mainly for fans of deep character dramas , Spike Lee, and Edward Norton. Everybody else should approach it with caution.

Order this DVD @ Amazon

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