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25th Hour
The Masked Reviewer

This is a  "Spike Lee joint".  Unfortunately, this joint is achy and plagued by arthritis. 

Ed Norton stars in this film.  Ed Norton is a fine actor who is always enjoyable to watch.  Phillip Seymour Hoffman is also in the film.  Phillip Seymour Hoffman is also a fine actor who is always enjoyable to watch.  There are other actors who are also fine and sometimes enjoyable to watch.  It's a good cast, without a doubt.  Until you get to the part of Kostya Novotny, a Russian gangster, played by Tony Siragusa.

Fans of film may not recognize this name.  Fans of football may remember him from the 2000 Superbowl Champion Baltimore Ravens, as well as many years on the Indianapolis Colts as a defensive nose tackle.  This was Siragusa's first role in a film.

He is a big guy, there's no doubt about it.  He was playing a big guy, so that part was very convincing.  But he spoke with the worst fake accent since Kevin Costner in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.  He sounded like a pathetic version of Boris Badenov from the Bullwinkle cartoons.  It's a credit to the acting of Ed Norton that he could do a scene with this 350 pound ham and not crack up every time Siragusa spoke.  In fact, the result is that in every scene Siragusa appears in, you can't help but marvel at how good the other actors are.

What possessed Spike Lee to put him in this movie?  He is awful.  There's no getting around it.  The performance is unintentionally hilarious, which makes taking the rest of the movie hard to do.  At any moment you expect Siragusa to come in, throw up his hands, and scream "Hello!" in his bad accent.

Other than that, while the film does have a few interesting moments, it tends to drag.  The title 25th Hour refers to what point in the film something interesting actually happens.  Sadly, it isn't the end until the 83rd hour. 

It's not a film that anyone is likely to want to watch over and over again, unless of course you want to show your friends the scenes with Siragusa.  It's otherwise well acted, but uneven and slow.  The Masked Reviewer remembers when it came out that someone had said that 25th Hour is Spike Lee's best work since Clockers.  Well, that's not exactly going out on a limb, is it?  Bamboozled(2000), The Original Kings of Comedy(2000), Summer of Sam(1999), He Got Game(1998), Get on the Bus(1996), and Clockers (1995)That's quite a run.  Before that were Crooklyn, Malcom X, Jungle Fever, Mo Better Blues; most of those are arguably better than his more recent work.  Do the Right Thing was from way back in 1989.  Spike Lee is prolific, but it's easy to forget a lot of his films.  25th Hour is no exception.


DVD Extra Features: Some deleted scenes, audio commentary by Spike Lee and audio commentary by the writer.  A couple of small featurettes.

Expectation from the Title: A slice of life from the line at the DMV.

Mother's Rule (Always Say Something Good About Everything):  It's good that Tony Siragusa found work after retiring from the violent life of the NFL.

The Pros: Some fine acting, a couple of interesting scenes.

The Cons: Watch a scene with Tony Siragusa, then try to find someone anywhere who is a less convincing actor.  He was a fine football player.


Copyright 2003, Michael D. Lynn