In 2002, Spike Lee released his critically acclaimed movie 25th Hour. The film follows the story of Monty Brogan (played by the devastatingly good Edward Norton), a man who is spending the last 24 hours before starting a seven-year prison sentence for drug dealing.
As Monty navigates his last night on the outside, he reflects on his past and grapples with the choices that have brought him to this point.
The Power of the Cast
One of the best things about Spike Lee’s films is that he always manages to assemble an incredible cast. 25th Hour is no exception to the rule. Each actor brings an intensity to their role that makes it easy to empathize with them and even identify with them at times.
Edward Norton gives an especially powerful performance as the main star, Monty. In one scene, he stands in front of a mirror and delivers an emotional monologue about his life. A heart-wrenching moment that you won’t soon forget.
But it is his overall poise and manner here that makes him the great actor he is. He carries Monty’s struggles, disappointments, and the inevitable fear of separation from his loved one, as his own. He remains cool but scared at the same time throughout.
Philip Seymour Hoffman
Another highly memorable performance from Philip Seymour Hoffman. He might be a supporting actor in this role but he shines as bright as Norton. If not more. He makes every second of his appearance in this movie count.
Rosario Dawson is simply electric in this role of “Naturelle Riviera”. She delivers exceptional acting skills and is devastatingly beautiful in this movie. Remember the silver dress. Another supporting actor who is very hard to forget.
The perhaps lesser-known Barry Pepper gives an exceptional performance in this movie as the best friend of the main character, Monty. Another elevated performance by an actor who I have not seen play better, doing it for Spike Lee.
Other Notable Performances
Three more actors stand out in this classic movie. Monty’s father, a pub owner played by Brian Cox, Anna Paquin who stars as Mary D’Annunzio, and last but certainly not least, FBI agent Flood, played by the exceptional Isiah Whitlock Jr.
Redemption and Forgiveness
The themes of redemption and forgiveness are present throughout the film; even though Monty has committed some horrible acts, we can still sympathize with him because he genuinely tries to make amends for his mistakes.
This theme is highlighted in one particular scene where Monty visits his father’s grave, apologizing for all the pain he caused during his life. It’s a powerful moment, and it speaks to how even in our darkest moments, there is still hope for redemption.
A Reflection on New York City
There is a historical element embedded in the movie. 25th Hour is notable for its depiction of New York City during the post-9/11 era. The city plays almost like another character in the film, as you get a real sense of how New Yorkers were dealing with the aftermath of those tragic events.
The way Spike Lee captures this feeling, of loss and despair but also resilience, is incredibly effective.
A Very Powerful Film
Spike Lee is an amazing director and this is not a black movie. The cast is diverse but the main characters and the hero are not black this time. Overall, 25th Hour is an intense and powerful movie that deserves its place among Spike Lee’s best films.
From its incredible performances to its thoughtful exploration of themes like redemption and forgiveness, it’s clear why this film remains so beloved by cinema lovers more than 15 years after its release. If you haven’t seen it yet then now is definitely the time.
What are you waiting for?