A Film Review By Jason L. King
|Rating:Rated R for strong language and some violence.
Starring: Edward Norton, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Barry Pepper, Rosario Dawson
Directed By:Spike Lee
I’ve always considered myself a huge Edward Norton fan. Even before I really knew who Edward Norton was, I loved him. Through a plethora of films Norton ahs continues to impress me with his wide variety of roles and acting skill. So when I saw Norton had signed up for The 25th Hour, I began building up the movie to everyone I saw without really hearing anything good or bad about it.
The 25th Hour is the story of Monty Brogan’s last 24 hours before heading off to prison to serve a 7-year sentence for drug dealing. During his last night of freedom Monty gathers with his 2 best friends and his girlfriend (each with their own set of problems) to spend one more night on the town as he reflects on his life and how he went from being on top of the world to crumbling back to rock bottom.
Edward Norton in my opinion is on a downward slide. Norton has proved himself as a gifted actor, and I really wish that he maintained the integrity and momentum that he has built over the years. However Norton now seems to being just going through the motions, and has lost “feeling” in his movies. It is almost as though he is trying to hard, or maybe not hard enough. Earlier in the year he released Red Dragon with Anthony Hopkins, and the same thing was said about Norton. It’s kind of sad because he is an actor that can bring so much to the screen. The problem may lie with some bad choices and bad scripts, but you can’t blame it all on that. IN the near future Norton has made the choice to star in a remake film called The Italian Job where he co-stars with Mark “Marky Mark” Wahlberg (the king of bad remakes). This frightens me… But getting back on track, in the case of The 25th Hour, I think Norton’s unconvincing role was due mostly to just a bad plot. In one of what I felt was supposedly one of the more “powerful” parts of the movie, we find Norton confronting his own racial and worldviews as he looks at himself in the mirror. This is supposed to give us insight to Norton’s character, yet instead it is more filler than anything. Norton’s speech reminds me of something he re-hashed from American History X and tried to fit it into this film.
Norton’s Co-stars of Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Barry Pepper prove to be both worthy of recognition in the film despite the angle they both had to deal with. Each of them brought certain energy to their characters that deserves to be recognized. Hoffman (who also was in Red Dragon with Norton) compensates Norton well, and is a gifted actor in a supporting role. Every time I see him in a film, my appreciation for his work grows. As for Barry Pepper, I was impressed with him as well. Pepper has proven to me over the last year that despite the mediocre roles (like Knock around Guys) he has acting talent, and I look forward to actually seeing more of him on the screen.
So where exactly does this film go from good to bad? It’s a sad story since it has a cast that could do so much if they were not given so little. The story splits into tow separate stories, and then tries to intertwine them and a bunch of useless subplots into one big finale at the end. That is where it goes awry. Monty Brogan’s (Norton) crumbling life is compared to his home city of New York and even takes time to show the aftermath of the World Trade Center. It tried hard to convey this, but it was just didn’t cut it when it is inside of a story of a guy getting drunk with his friends before he heads off to jail. On top of all that we get introduced to subplots for each one of Norton’s friends, such as a High School Student/teacher love interest for Phillip Seymour Hoffman. Each of these subplots are never really fully explored, examined or resolved, they just exist. By the time the movie ends, You’ve seen a drunken man evaluate his life, his friends crumbling just like he is die to their own problems all tied into a city that is supposedly crumbling as well. Some may call that masterpiece, but I call it a bad attempt at tying in way too much.
The other problem with The 25th Hour was that it just took too long to get anywhere, or better yet to get no where. By the time the movie got moving, I was at borderline boredom and as I watched Norton and his friends down more drinks the boredom continued. Had their been a stronger payoff in the end I would have enjoyed it more. Instead it just ends as disjointed and abruptly as it starts and I feel cheated by mediocrity.
Although my love for Norton is strong, the force is not with him in this one. I really wanted to enjoy this flick, and maybe (but not likely) from a critic’s standpoint I could in a second viewing. But the plain and simple truth is that the average moviegoer is not going to go nutso over this flick. It just has too many loose ends, and too drug out to really keep everyone’s interest…