Based on David Benioff’s novel, 25th Hour concerns the last free day of Monty Brogan, an Irish kid from Brooklyn who matures into a convicted felon. Before Monty goes up the river, he and his pals go out on the town. As adapted by Spike Lee — a director who cannot help but turn a Nike ad into a mash note to New York City — the movie nods to Martin Scorsese’s ”Mean Streets,” Woody Allen’s ”Manhattan,” and Lee’s own ”Do the Right Thing,” and the setup is less a premise than a pretense. The story of Edward Norton’s Monty doesn’t gain momentum; rather, it winds down, spinning out varied character studies, catchy slice-of-life vignettes, perfect urban vistas, and a meditation on Ground Zero along the way.
With his first feature film, ”She’s Gotta Have It,” Lee was tagged ”the black Woody Allen,” and he’s since developed into a cinematic Norman Mailer (emerging as both provocative and pugnacious). With its democratic raptures, hurtling monologues, and mongrel energy, ”25th Hour” suggests that Lee could become a media-age Walt Whitman. He contains multitudes.