"Sleazy Midlife Crisis"
What You Need To Know:
This didactic exposé of various midlife crises is revealed so early that most of the movie becomes a stagnant portrait of the sleazy snares that entrap people. Toward the end Monty dreams of escaping to some small town in the desert. His father tells him that you can find God in the desert, while signs along the way say “Jesus is the answer” and “Jesus saves.” This Christian hope is offered in contrast to the vileness of Monty’s environment. Thus, 25TH HOUR offers a morality tale with some Christian elements set in a broken pagan world where the ugliness of life is exposed in all its horror
(B, CC, PaPa, Ab, LLL, VV, SS, AA, DD, M) Morality tale with some redemptive and Christian elements set in a sleazy broken pagan world where people’s wrong decisions have come back to haunt them and the ugliness of life is exposed in all of its horror and signs saying “Jesus saves” and “Jesus is the answer,” and dialogue saying “I believe in God’s kingdom,” “We will be together again, not in this world but in the kingdom,” and “In the desert you can find God”; 156 obscenities and 15 profanities; intense moments of violence including drug dealer beaten and kicked and man’s face pounded to a bloody pulp; kissing, 16-year-old girl portrayed as sex object and raw discussions of fornication, pedophilia and oral sex; women in revealing outfits and bathtub scene with nothing shown; drinking alcohol to get drunk; drugs and drug dealers discussed throughout movie, quite often rebuked; and, racism, sexism, anti-homosexual comments, lying, tattoo, and Islamic music.
Set in the sleaziest world of drug dealing, 25TH HOUR is a transparent morality tale about a midlife crisis. In this movie, Spike Lee seems to refute many of his previous positions. He even has the main character lambaste blacks for not getting over slavery, as well as lambaste every other segment of society, including homosexuals, immigrants, drug dealers, and gang members. Conspicuous in the movie is a poster of COOL HAND LUKE, an archetypal Christological figure with an attitude who seems to be the inspiration for the anti-hero of 25TH HOUR.
The movie tells the story of the last 25 hours of Monty Brogan before he goes to prison for drug dealing. During this time, Monty comes face to face with the wrong decisions he’s made. His friends, Jake, a teacher who has pedophile yearnings, and Francis, a stockbroker who’s filled with pride and greed, also come face to face with their wrong decisions.
This didactic exposé of the midlife crises faced by these characters is revealed so early in the movie that most of the movie becomes a stagnant portrait of the sleazy snares that entrap them. In his own angst, Monty stands at a bathroom mirror and screams, “F you!” at himself and a myriad of racial and sexual groups. He says: “F you, blacks” for not getting over slavery; “F you” Russian immigrants for running the mafia in New York; “F you” homosexuals for parading your perversity in front of everyone; and, so forth for an extended period of time. This verbal diatribe is visualized in much of the movie.
Monty’s great fear in going to prison is that he will be raped. Therefore, he asks his friend Francis to beat his face to a pulp to make himself unappealing to the other male inmates.
Toward the end Monty dreams of escaping to some small town in the desert. His father tells him that you can find God in the desert. Signs along the way to the desert say “Jesus is the answer” and “Jesus Saves.” His father tells him that, once he goes to the desert, he can never contact his father or his friends again, but that he will be with his father again in God’s kingdom. This Christian hope is offered in contrast to the vileness of Monty’s environment and to the fact that during his invective before the mirror he even cursed Jesus Christ, saying, “F you for dying so quickly while I’m going to have to spend seven years in prison.”
Although the storyline in 25TH HOUR is stagnant and preachy, the direction of the characters and the acting is brilliant. Philip Seymour Hoffman turns in another great performance as the guilt-ridden, inhibited teacher with pedophile yearnings. Rosario Dawson goes from a beautiful innocence to a hard-edged mistress in her role as Monty’s girlfriend, Naturelle. Edward Norton gives the performance of a lifetime as Monty, which would make anyone in the Actors’ Studio cheer.
The movie’s music starts off with an Islamic melody and ends up with some redemptive Christian elements after passing through some heavy drug-infested themes.
More than that, Spike Lee is a visual stylist. He lingers over the scenes of the empty hole that used to be the World Trade Center. He captures looks that could kill, and then he turns the characters around to give them a warm friendly persona.
25TH HOUR does not appear to be an audience-pleasing movie. It appears to be an expression of Spike Lee’s own midlife crisis. With all of his talent, one would hope that he would find not only some answers, and even more so THE answer, but would also submit to the art of drama that would give his movies a broader audience and a deeper penetration into the questions he is asking.