Road to Perdition
Dir: Sam Mendes
Star: Tom Hanks, Paul Newman, Jude Law, Tyler Hoechlin
Cert / Year: 15 - R / 2002
Format: DVD R2

Michael Sullivan (Tom Hanks) is not a nice man. He is a mob enforcer working for crime boss John Rooney (Paul Newman), and is used whenever violence or a gun is needed. This is a fact that he tries to hide from his children. One fateful day his older kid Michael Sullivan, Jr. (Tyler Hoechlin) stows away in the car as his dad and the Rooney's son (Daniel Craig) go on a job. The young boy witnesses them commit a multiple murder, but then is caught by his father. He is now a risk to the organisation and especially Rooney's son. When Sullivan's wife and youngest son are murdered he goes on the run with young Michael. It seems that road to Perdition will be lined with danger and paved with revenge.

Most accomplished directors have a body of work as your arm, in Sam Mendes's case he seems to have made it with a body of work that barely stretches to your shoulder. In fact this is only his second film. It is a real accomplishment that he is so well respected in Hollywood on the basis of only two films, it is only when you consider the films you see why. The first film was the excellent American Beauty, a very moving and beautifully shot affair, it was an outstanding debut film. This adds a lot of weight to the shoulders of Road to Perdition, as it has a lot to live up to.

From the start of the film you can tell that Road to Perdition is a touch of class. The scenes of the boy cycling home against the workers leaving a factory is almost Lowery like in its vision. It all forms part of the fantastic cinematic vision that Sam Mendes has. There is no doubt that this is some of the best cinematography that you will ever see. The many shots are simply flawless. For example the see when Micheal spy's on his dad, or the street shot out in the rain. If anyone had any doubt over Sam Mendes's skill they must have now banished it from their minds.

Tom Hanks as a bad guy, well there's a sight you don't often see. Ok so he's not really a bad guy but even then this isn't the tough guy sort of role he usually attempts, and maybe this is the problem. You see that after all of his films it is really hard to see him as anything other than affable. This is a shame, as he never imbues the central character with the strength it requires. Thankfully Paul Newman and Jude Law but in two superb performances to balance things out.

The one main disappointment with the film is its similarity to American Beauty. How is this when one is a nineteen thirties gangster film, and the other about suburban menopause in modern America. Well both films have at their centre a broken parent sibling relationship. Both stories are told in a retrospective style giving the whole film an air of inevitability, and both have a similar incidental soundtrack. It would have been nice to see Sam Mendes try to tell the story in a different way.

Road to Perdition is a strong film. The story is interesting and not overly sentimental. The direction adds immense weight and power to key scenes. It looks beautiful (if not a little too much use being made of the drab colour pallet), and has a quality cast. Tom Hanks delivers a good performance, but I can't say he is totally convincing in this sort of role. The thing that tempers my judgement of the film is its similarity to the superior American Beauty. Overall this is a great film and well worth a watch.


The innocence of a son is surpassed only by the father's will to save it.


Peter Sullivan: Sir, why are you smiling all of the time.
Connor Rooney : Because everything is just so f***ing hilarious.

Rating: 3 out of 5

Picture 2.35:1 Anamorphic Beautiful transfer that makes the most of the cinematography.
Audio Dolby Digital 5.1 Another in the load list od good soundtracks.
Features Audio commentary from Sam Mendes
Pretty good deleted scenes that add some character background
Making of Featurette
Photo Gallery
Cast \ Crew filmographies
Production Notes
Verdict Great transfer but not the most exciting set of extras.

Rating: 3 out of 5

Reviewed by Glitz Link Back Top Home