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I recently caught the film Road to Perdition on cable television, and really enjoyed what I saw. Released in 2002, it is a Depression-era gangster film, starring Tom Hanks, Paul Newman, Jude Law, Daniel Craig and Stanley Tucci, and directed by Sam Mendes (most recently known for directing Bond film Skyfall).
Road to Perdition tells the story of hit man Mike Sullivan (Tom Hanks), who works for crime boss John Rooney (Paul Newman). Rooney had always acted as a father figure to Sullivan, taking care of his family for years. One night, Sullivan’s son Michael Jr. witnesses a killing, done by his father. Rooney’s son Connor (Daniel Craig) believes Michael Jr. will rat on what he saw, leading Connor to kill Sullivan’s wife and youngest son, mistaking him for Michael Jr. After discovering the bodies of his family, Sullivan and Michael Jr. set out on the road for revenge against Connor, facing threats along the way such as assassin Harlen Maguire (Jude Law) and one of mobster Al Capone’s associates Frank Nitti (Stanley Tucci).
This is a very subtle yet powerful film. It was shot beautifully, which was acclaimed that year and won an Oscar for Conrad Hall’s cinematography, shortly after his death. Tom Hanks gives a very stern, but memorable performance, and Paul Newman received a nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his role. Daniel Craig and Jude Law were equally as good, with menacing and twisted portrayals of their characters.
One of the things that stuck out to me about the film is that early on in the story, Mike Sullivan and Michael Jr. are both sort of estranged, while Mike is a very strict father. But as time goes on, and Mike realizes Michael Jr. is all he has left, he realizes how important to him his son is, and you start to see a more caring relationship take place between the two.
Road to Perdition had a so-so script, which from time to time seemed a bit choppy. However, it was made up for with its story and casts’ overall performances. At times the film seems a bit similar to mobster movies of the past, using familiar traits, but at the same time delivers an original and capturing flavor.
With an enjoyable cast, and as a solid drama involving tragedy and loss in the gangster business, Road to Perdition is both heartfelt and leaves you wanting more. If you are looking for a mob movie you may not have seen yet, I recommend you give this a watch.
My Reel Rating: 7.0/10
Written by Josh Sazin on January 5th, 2014