The 25th Hour
December 20, 2002
Director Spike Lee and star Ed Norton team up to bring David Benioff's novel to the screen. The novel focuses on Monty Brogan, who grew up wanting to be a firefighter, but was lured by the glamour and money of the life of a drug dealer to the rich and famous. He is now paying the price, having been sentenced to a seven-year jail term, which is scheduled to begin the following day. He spends his last day of freedom dealing with his father, his drug-lord boss, his girlfriend, and, most importantly, his two high school buddies, a highly successful bond trader and a high-school English teacher. The three spend that last night together, though all the while Monty has a plan that provides a surprise twist ending.
The film will be made with an extremely low budget, and although it doesn't seem to contain many elements that would obviously require a lot of money to execute, it does mean that Norton must have taken a sizable pay cut from his usual salary to star in the movie. This would seem to indicate that he sees something special in the screenplay, or perhaps the opportunity to work with Lee, that would make this a classic labor-of-love scenario. The film was originally meant as a vehicle for Tobey Maguire, and though Maguire may have worked fine, the casting of Norton seems like it would bring an entirely different type of intensity to role, an intensity that seems more appropriate.
This will be Lee's first film since 2000's Bamboozled and Original Kings of Comedy combo, and though he is often associated with dealing with racial issues in film, Lee has also shown himself adept at dealing intimately with character studies, and that should serve him well with this picture. Benioff seems to be poised to become the next hot screenwriter in Hollywood, considering that he has reportedly been paid more than the entire budget of The 25th Hour for his spec script, Stay, which will be fast tracked and produced by Michael Bay.
The 25th Hour truly seems to have all the elements to be considered promising both critically and at the box office: One of the hottest and most reliable actors in the business; a talented director, who is admittedly considered a few years removed from his best work; and an up-and-coming screenwriter. The studio must love the essentially no-risk, low-budget nature of the project as well. At the very least, look for solid returns, as a limited to mid-range release with the likely probability of more substantial box office as a wide release, particularly if it garners the award attention that it seems prone to do considering the elements involved. (Calvin Trager/BOP)
Comparison films for The 25th Hour
|He Got Game
|Summer of Sam
|American History X