It seems like Spike Lee gets tons of recognition for his good films (Do The Right Thing, Jungle Fever) and tons of flak for his mediocre ones (Crooklyn, Bamboozled). Yet for some reason, he doesn't get much of anything for this film. Maybe it's because he didn't write it (the original novel and the screenplay were both written by David Benioff), maybe it's because it didn't really engender any controversy, but whatever the reason, it's a travesty.
The movie features outstanding performances from Ed Norton, Barry Pepper and Philip Seymour Hoffman. Norton gives a nuanced performance as a drug dealer trying to tie up his loose ends and find the guy who ratted him out before being sent upstate on a possession rap. Even Rosario Dawson, who probably couldn't act excited during the best sex of her life, gives the performance of her career. The film is shockingly raw and startlingly earnest at the same time, while never straying from its purpose. What's more, the movie is shot against the backdrop of post-9/11 New York, making the location as much of a character as the people. (UR: -22.5)