Generally favorable reviews - based on 37 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 24 out of 37
  2. Negative: 3 out of 37
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  1. The result is a film of sadness and power, the first great 21st century movie about a 21st century subject.
  2. 25th Hour struck me as one of the best movies of 2002, but it's also a film that will strike some of its audience as ethically dubious or threatening.
  3. Reviewed by: G. Allen Johnson
    One of Spike Lee's greatest films -- seamlessly merging personal drama against a canvas of larger social significance on a level worthy of "Do the Right Thing."
  4. The movie is flawed by implausible psychology and moments of weak acting. But it's more than redeemed by Lee's passionate ideas about America today.
  5. The film persuades us to think long and hard about what prison means, and Lee has shaped it like a poem that builds into an epic lament, especially in a beautiful and tragic closing that risks absurdity to achieve the sublime.
  6. The movie resonates precisely because it serves as documentary only pretending to be fiction: It's set in a real place recovering from real pain, which Lee makes tangible.
  7. 90
    It captures the city's bitter, wire-taut mood after September 11th, and I hope that Disney -- finds some way to bring this acrid and brilliant little picture to the large audience it deserves. [13 January 2003, p. 90]
  8. 90
    The film at its simplest serves as a cautionary tale, but it also functions as a meditation on how little it takes to redirect a life by choice or by chance.
  9. 88
    Norton, returning to cracking form, doesn't try to make the selfish and smug Monty sympathetic -- but he lights up the screen, especially in two fantasy sequences.
  10. 88
    The film is unusual for not having a plot or a payoff.
  11. 88
    It's deeply stylized, but there's an accompanying patience and gravity that are hard to shake. They're the architecture of a lingering, unsentimental sadness.
  12. Lee, as he did in ''Malcolm X'' and ''Clockers,'' makes his hero's dread palpable, and though 25th Hour lacks the glittering brilliance of those films, I was held by the toughness and pity of Lee's gaze.
  13. 80
    Lee has created that rarity in filmmaking: a movie we need, right now.
  14. Isn't Lee's most personal piece, but it may very well be his most mature.
  15. 75
    Lee delivers a beautiful evocation of the American Dream in its simplest, purest form.
  16. It could have been more taut, could have been harder, but 25th Hour still resonates with power and poetry.
  17. 75
    Moves slowly -- it's an unhurried, talky affair that consists primarily of members of the small group of characters interacting.
  18. Too bad there's also a final 15 minutes that surely ranks among the worst endings an otherwise good movie has ever received.
  19. 75
    In a multiplex filled with empty New Year vessels (take that, Kangaroo Jack), this holdover grabs you hard.
  20. If 25th Hour does not quite work as a plausible and coherent story, it produces a wrenching, dazzling succession of moods.
  21. Edward Norton makes an art of self-containment. No contemporary actor gives less away to more effect, and he's at his closely held best in 25th Hour, a drama of redemption, directed by Spike Lee, that seldom rises to the level of his performance.
  22. Lee doesn't seem to have the slightest sympathy for his hero, no particular point is made, and the whole exercise seems cold and empty.
  23. 67
    An engaging if not riveting film based on David Benioff's adaptation of his own novel. It's not nearly Lee's best picture, and it's guilty of a few wrong turns that only a confident filmmaker could make, but it's assured and, perhaps more importantly, reassuring.
  24. 63
    Norton is brilliant in Lee's so-so 'Hour.'
  25. Reviewed by: Angel Cohn
    While Edward Norton convincingly portrays both the good and bad side of his conflicted man, a great deal of the insight into his character comes from the strong supporting cast.
  26. Reviewed by: Jeff Stark
    Of course Spike Lee has the right to transcend movies about race. He also has the talent to do better than this plodding moral fable.
  27. Reviewed by: David Rooney
    Lapses into melodramatic self-importance and gratuitous stylistic flourishes that take the audience out of the action -- are outweighed by the steadily amplified emotional power of this ultimately moving drama.
  28. Reviewed by: David Edelstein
    At its best, 25th Hour is a melancholy tone poem -- But the movie is also muddled by its own ambitions. There is simply no connection between the themes of Benioff's screenplay and 9/11, and every time Lee over-inflates the story, he loses its real pulse.
  29. This is romanticism of a rather low order.
  30. To say Spike Lee is repeating himself is itself repetitious -- he is getting B-O-R-I-N-G!
  31. Reviewed by: Scott Bowles
    Hour not only acknowledges the attacks -- they're a running theme. Lee opens his movie with a shot of the beaming blue spotlights that mark where the twin towers once stood.
  32. 50
    Often feels like a mediocre time-waster, and yet it sticks in the mind.
  33. It's the usual undisciplined, overextended Spike symphony: more fun than it is any good.
  34. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    Pretty lethargic stuff. Monty, a convicted drug dealer on his last day before he is to report to prison, does more moping than moving.
  35. There are two films at war in director Spike Lee's newest feature 25th Hour, one uninteresting, the other an epic of near-tragic miscalculation.
  36. 30
    Just about the only good thing you can say about Spike Lee's pointless, didactic The 25th Hour is that it's filled with strong performances, albeit of stock characters.
  37. Spike Lee's films have been provocative, blunt, thoughtful, misguided, daring, sentimental, funny, honest and silly. But 25th Hour earns the director two new adjectives: irrelevant and tedious.
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 188 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 37 out of 50
  2. Negative: 9 out of 50
  1. Apr 28, 2013
    This certainly isn't a movie that I would want to watch together with friends. Instead of trying to grab your attention with visual-heavyThis certainly isn't a movie that I would want to watch together with friends. Instead of trying to grab your attention with visual-heavy scenes, this movie mainly consists of conversations. It's about a realistic scenario and how the people affected by it are dealing with it. And I really like the movie for that. It's different from what I usually watch.
    The conversations are also very realistic. There are some scenes that were kind of unnecessary but still blew me away by how these characters talked to each other. A lot of times I thought to my self: "Yea, I could see my self taking part of that conversation." Although the drug mobster is kind of overblown.
    I can see why people find this movie boring. It's not for everyone. If you're the type of guy that can sit down for 2 hours and listen to people talk to each other about what they think will happen to them and what they're afraid of instead of them taking part in action scenes, then give this movie a shot. I certainly really enjoyed it.
    Full Review »
  2. May 13, 2012
    Ed Norton was completely believable. However, the script was so incredibly sad. I don't want to watch a film about utter hopelessness. FineEd Norton was completely believable. However, the script was so incredibly sad. I don't want to watch a film about utter hopelessness. Fine for people who love tragedies. If you want to walk away not feeling suicidal, don't bother. Full Review »
  3. Feb 25, 2012
    weird movie, about some criminal guy and his friends. Just another stupid movie that involves criminals going to jail and **** like that. I amweird movie, about some criminal guy and his friends. Just another stupid movie that involves criminals going to jail and **** like that. I am not interested in this LOW LIFE **** Full Review »