Road To Perdition (2002)

DVD Cover (DreamWorks)
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Overall Rating 74%
Overall Rating
Ranked #552
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It is the year 1931. Mike Sullivan is a henchman of southern Illinois crime boss John Rooney. Having taken Sullivan under his wing as as orphan, Rooney's paternal affections for him are greater than for his son and heir, Connor Rooney, who is a violent and dangerous man. Sullivan's eldest son Michael, who is curious about his mysterious father, inadvertently witnesses a mob hit that is carried out by his father and Connor. Michael is caught and sworn to secrecy but Connor views him as a loose end. This puts Sullivan at odds with Rooney who is forced to side with his son, making Sullivan an enemy of the mob. Sullivan then takes action to protect his family and to put an end to the threat. --IMDb
Review by bluemeanie
Added: June 10, 2005
Sam Mendes may be the next great director in Hollywood. "American Beauty" was such a brilliant film and stunning debut, many people doubted whether or not he would be able to follow up such success. He did the right thing. He waited and waited for the perfect script until it finally landed at his feet, the adaptation of a graphic novel entitled "Road to Perdition". What a fantastic decision it was for Mendes to accept this project, and what a wonderful job he did with the film.

Tom Hanks stars as Michael Sullivan, a family man with one small quirk--he's a hit man who protects the town boss, Paul Newman, from all kinds of harm. However, when Hanks' wife and son are murdered, he goes on a quest for vengeance against those responsible, bringing him closer together with his surviving son Michael, Jr., who must accompany him on the trip.

This very basic plotline is filled with immense depth and emotion, involving the relationships between fathers and sons (this examined through Hanks and his son, and Newman, who sees Hanks as the son he never had, but always wanted), the rewards and consequences of revenge, and the stock of loyalty and honor. Sam Mendes has crafted a beautiful period piece, authentic and powerful in scope.

After watching this film, I realized that there were three things I really loved about the film, and only one that I found to be bothersome. The three things I loved: (1) The performances. Tom Hanks carries this film on his gifted shoulders from beginning to end, adding another Oscar worthy performance to his plethora of cinematic winners.

Paul Newman adds class and perfection to his role of bossman John Rooney, and Jude Law delivers a flawless American accent in a small, yet meaningful performance as a rival hit man who likes to photograph his victims after he has dispatched them. Also, Stanley Tucci pops up as infamous crime lord Frank Nitti. (2) The authenticity. When Hanks and and his son are driving into Chicago, there is an amazing shot of the buildings colliding with the automobiles and the Chicago skyline. There is also another shot of Hanks and his son walking amidst a crowd of people, all looking relatively the same, but all completely different. Everything has a thirtiesh look about it and he film never strays from that feel. (3) The message. "Road to Perdition" is a very violent, very grim film, but delivers a powerful and touching message about love and loyalty. When Paul Newman is speaking with Hanks, he is visibly torn between turning in the son he has always known, or disappointing the son he has always wanted. Their scenes together are priceless. Also, Tyler Hoechlin, who portrays Michael, Jr., does a fine job matching up with such colossal stars as Hanks and Newman, but it is hard to keep your attention on him when Hanks dominates the screen as he tends to do.

The one aspect of the film I found displeasing was that halfway through the film, it became utterly predictable. I knew what was going to happen just before it happened, and that always makes me a little uneasy. Don't get me wrong--that isn't nearly enough to make me give this close to a negative review--but, it did bother me just a little. I like that constant element of surprise, though it is hard to come up with something completely original in the crime genre.

"Road to Perdition" is a fantastic film, which I am certain will receive its share of Oscar prestige. Hanks and Newman both give Oscar worthy performances, and Sam Mendes proves that he is a force to be reckoned with in Hollywood. The bad thing is that this film will likely get lost in a summer filled with blockbusters like "Men in Black 2", "K-19: The Widowmaker", "Reign of Fire", and other films that will draw in the big bucks. This film will probably have a successful first weekend and then fizzle away quickly, only to be rediscovered at Oscar time, and possibly rereleased. That's the way it goes. But, go and see this one if you have a chance, and see why Tom Hanks just can't make a bad movie. 9/10.
Lucid Dreams #1: Lucid Dreams - added 08/12/2010, 12:01 AM
I loved this movie. 10/10
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