Edward Norton plays a drug dealer in the 24 hours before his going to prison for 7 years.
25th Hour is a slow burner, as they say. We follow Norton’s character as he builds towards his incarceration. He’s tying up loose ends and going over his past mistakes. The film meanders amongst its various plot points, in no hurry to reach a conclusion. We meet plenty of characters from his life and see how they react differently to the impending imprisonment.
Lee touches on how greed affects our lives and the decisions we take, and also makes the point that not all greedy men suffer the same fate, unfair as it may be.
Perhaps the most interesting thing about the film is the fact that it was one of the first to deal with 9/11 and the events that followed while it was still fresh in people’s minds. It’s been said before and I’ll say it again, a large part of this documents the thoughts and feelings of New Yorkers at the time.
This is probably my second Spike Lee film after Inside Man so I’m not well positioned to pit it against the rest of his work, but the handling of 9/11 feels a little heavy handed at times. It’s sometimes jarring.
25th Hour is a well made, well acted film with a screenplay that’s punctuated by moments of raw emotion. However, for whatever reason it left me cold. Perhaps I was in a cynical mood but it all felt so contrived and forced. I feel like Lee is trying so hard to make a film that ‘gets people thinking’, yet he winds up with one that shouts in people’s faces.
Still, this is a fine piece of work that acts a brilliant snapshot of a troubled and sore era for New York. I’m just not sure it’s much more than that.