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Road to Perdition, a movie undeservedly overlooked at that year Oscars
is the second work of Sam Mendes (and in my opinion his best work), a
director who three years before won Oscar for his widely acclaimed but
controversial American Beauty. This is a terrific movie, and at the
same time ultimately poignant and sad.
It's a story of a relatively wealthy and happy family from outward appearance during difficult times of Depression when the, Michael Sullivan, a father of two children, played by great Tom Hanks (I'm not his admirer but ought to say that) is a hit-man for local mafia boss, played by Paul Newman. His eldest son, a thirteen years boy Michael Sullivan Jr., perfectly played by young Tyler Hoechlin, after years of blissful ignorance finds out what is his father job and on what money their family live. Prompted by his curiosity and his aspiration to know truth he accidentally becomes a witness of a murder, committed by John Rooney, son of his father boss. Such discovery strikes an innocent soul and it caused numerous events that changed his life forever. The atmosphere of the period, all the backgrounds and decorations are perfectly created, editing and cinematography are almost flawless while the story is well written. But the main line of the movie, the most important moments and points of the movie and the key factor of the movie success are difficult father-son relations in bad times. They are shown so deeply, strong and believable. Tom Hanks does excellent and has one of the best performances of his career in a quite unusual role for him and all acting across the board is superb. Finally worth to mention a very nice score by Paul Newman and in the result we get an outstanding work of all people involved in making this beautiful (but one more time sad) masterpiece. I believe Road to Perdition belongs to greatest achievements of film-making of this decade and undoubtedly one of the best films of the year.
My grade 10 out of 10
Many have either hated, loved, or been let down by this film. Hype does terrible things to the best and worst of things. Most of the reasons i have heard for not liking this film are ridiculous. Let me just tell you, if you have not seen it yet, go see it. Even if for some reason you don't think its amazing, it will be among the best films you have seen of the year anyways. Road to Perdition is a beautiful movie, both visually and in performance. Every actor here is deserving of acclaim and Academy attention, mainly Jude Law. Any emotional detachment is intentional; It is a tragic story, one of betrayal, love, bonds, and revenge. There is no doubt this film will become a classic. Don't dare compare it with Godfather: this is a GANGSTER film, not a MAFIA movie! Godfather will never be surpassed, so don't compare to it. Road to Perdition as of now is the leading Best Picture Oscar contender. Unlike past years, it deserves it.
This couldn't have been better. The strong restraints on Mike Sullivan's
expressions couldn't have been portrayed in any other way. Tom Hanks
delivers the best performance of his career. Young Tyler Hoechlin drives
emotional wheel; playing the basis character for the story. And veteran
Newman gives one of his best character performances in a long time.
This film is based on a bold graphic novel by Max Allan Collins and Richard Piers Rayner. This is a father/son story which basically employs the two candidates solely unfit for the roles. Mike Sullivan had no father as a child, so John Rooney took him in. Although a generous man, Mr. Rooney involved himself in organized crime. Therefore, the debt of Sullivan was only to be paid off in involving himself in the business. Now, Sullivan has a wife and two children and is trying to keep his children safe, but at the same time pay back his boss. The events to follow, will test Sullivan's loyalty and embrace his family's fate.
With a great adaptation by David Self, the dialogue comes out seldomly, but yet very virtuous. The story unfolds in a beautiful 1930's setting (Brilliant Art Direction by Richard L. Johnson & Nancy Haigh) covered with a dark rainy (snow on the ground) exterior. Driving the story, is Thomas Newman's wonderful Irish score, settling in only when necessary.
But the most important technical element in the film is Conrad L. Hall's beautiful photography. This is some of the best cinematography I've seen; and I watch a lot of films. The scene when Mike and Michael are in the car, entering Chicago is quite impressive. The shot starts at the front of the car, revealing Mike(Hanks) through the windshield. It subsequently dollys around to the side of the car, to see Michael(Hoechlin) awakening and peering out his side window. As it continues, it trucks sideways and dollys back, completely around the car and reveals a gorgeous scenic 1930's Chicago.
With a great cast and crew, the principle man creates a brazenly amazing film. I'm talking about Sam Mendes, who made his feature film debut in 1999 with American Beauty. (won him various awards) Before American Beauty, Mendes worked as a play director for the British Theater, but decided that he wanted to move on saying that there was nothing new for him in theater. With only two films, Sam Mendes has marked himself in my book as one of the great directors (In a list of about twenty-five).
The film illuminates a brazen genre that has its hits and misses and expresses the true theme brilliantly. The photography, acting and story is phenominal. I'm still waiting for Scorcesee's Gangs of New York, but for now, I'm fully confident in saying that this is the "Best Film of the Year". Considering it's competition (Signs, Insomnia, Minority Report) thats a strong statement.
Acting This film is a very well acted film. I will say that the performances are slightly weak at times; but for the most part, the acting is very good. The only actor that blew me away with his performance was Jude Law as Harlen Maguire. He was incredible! Tom Hanks seemed alittle unsure at at a few points throughout the film but he too was incredible. Paul Newman, good as always. Cinematography This is what made the movie a masterpiece (and I rarely use that word). Conrad Hall is a true genius. If at any point in the movie you were to pause it, you will see the delicately crafted work of this man. He sets up every shot so that nothing is left out. When the camera is still, there is a postcard like quality to the screen. When the camera is moving, every shot is planned to understated perfection. But it doesn't stop there. Conrads choice of colors and contrast between light and dark settings is a work of art. The way he lights the set is some of the most amazing lighting work I've seen. His work on this movie made it what it is. This movie is at the top of the list for best Cinematography with LOTR, Black Hawk Down, Hero, CTHD, Moulin Rouge, and Vertigo. Story People will say this movie is a 1930s gangster flick but, I believe they missed the point of the movie. It is a love story about a hit-man who fails in trying to protect his son from the life he chose. It is a brilliantly crafted story that unfolds into a beautiful bond between two people who have nothing but each other. The screen Writing is worthy of an Oscar. Music Thomas Newman conducts a sad but hopeful score to intensify this sad but hopeful story. The music is some of the most beautiful and moving scores I've herd. Direction Sam Mendes is a new director with a feel of an experienced director. The symbols he uses and the performances he gets from his actors is a rarity in todays film-making world. I will be on the lookout for the next Sam Mendes Film. 10/10 one of the most moving and beautiful movies I've ever seen.
I loved so much about this movie...the time taken to develop the
characters, the attention to detail, the superb performances, the
stunning lighting and cinematography, the wonderful soundtrack...
It has a combined intensity and lightness of touch that won't work for anyone who wants the typical fast-paced action flick. If we lived in Elizabethan days, I'd say this movie's a bit like a Shakespearean tragedy. But since we don't, let's say it's more like a Drama-Suspense movie.
The plot is simple, but the story is complex. The movie is intelligent in the way relationships and issues are explored. Much of the story is shown rather than told, which I find makes it more subtle and moving - and which also works well for a story based on a comic book (or graphic novel). At times I felt I was actually there in the 1930s, part of this story - there was such a realistic yet dream-like quality in the style of its telling.
I don't often prefer movies to the books they were based upon, but in this case I do. (Though I did enjoy the book too.) I've bought the DVD, which is great because it has some wonderful deleted scenes and insightful commentary.
(I also took my little cousin, who's a little younger than the boy in the movie, to see it after I saw it for the first time, because he has issues at home and I wanted to use this as a way of starting a discussion on father-son issues with him. He loved it - and the discussion.)
Conrad Hall went out with a bang. The great film photographer finished
his illustrious career with this movie before passing on. He did
himself proud as this is one of the best-looking crime films you'll
Of course, the acting ain't bad when you have Tom Hanks and Paul Newman playing the leads! The amount of action in here is just right, too: not too much; not too little.
None of the characters in here, frankly, are "good guys" as Hanks is a professional hit-man for town boss Newman. Hanks' only redeeming quality is not wanting his young son to wind up a killer like him, although he does teach him how to be the getaway man in robberies! Huh?
As good as the acting is and as interesting as the story is, the real star of this film is cinematographer Hall, who paints scene after beautiful scene with his lens. His work is just awesome.
I f you thought Sam Mendes' first film, the much heralded American
BEAUTY was a movie with style to spare, wait until you see his highly
anticipated second effort, the unrelentingly grim 30's gangster
melodrama ROAD TO PERDITION. Some critics have hailed this new movie as
a worthy successor to THE GODFATHER, a rash judgment made by several
reviewers taken with Mr. Mendes' extraordinary technical prowess. If
the mechanics of movie making are what make a picture great, then yes,
ROAD TO PERDITION is a distant cousin to THE GODFATHER in terms of what
it achieves in cinematography, editing, music scoring and sound. What
it doesn't have is a resonance that all great stories and some very
rare movies have that stay with the viewer long after the experience of
reading or seeing it is over. As with American BEAUTY, there is a cold,
distancing feel to this movie, despite some very tense scenes involving
paternal love, loyalty and betrayal.
This story of a hit man (Tom Hanks) and his relationship to a surrogate father - figure who is also his boss, an elderly Irish mob leader (Paul Newman) , seems to have been culled from innumerable gangster movies of years past. The father /son motif that hangs over this picture is so heavy handed in its treatment that there is not much room for spontaneity ; the entire enterprise has been very carefully wrought , and nearly all the dialog is delivered with an air of great portent : this is obviously a gangster film , hence the requisite amount of violence and bloodshed , but the film is nearly devoid of any humor to speak of ; only in scenes involving a young boy driving a getaway car in a cunningly edited montage is there any sense of lightheartedness to leaven the pervasive sense of doom.
That being said , I have nothing but the highest praise for the stunning look of this film ; indeed , it is not an overstatement to say that this is one of the most beautifully photographed and designed movies I have ever seen. Veteran cameraman Conrad Hall will very likely win another Oscar for his work here . The production 's sets and costumes are just as exemplary ; in fact , the entire film is a technical marvel. Mr. Mendes continues to astonish with his vivid use of color, and he and Mr. Hall again make very dramatic use of red blood splattered against pale colored walls , all the more effective and disconcerting due to the preponderance of blacks, blues and grays that dominate the movie's color scheme.
If I have failed to duly note the acting , it is not because the actors do not purport themselves ably ; everyone in the film is top notch, with special mention going to the two malevolent bad guys : Daniel Craig is the classic "man you love to hate", the spoiled, impulsive son of Newman's gangster father ; and an almost unrecognizable Jude Law as an especially slimy miscreant who goes on pursuit of Hanks and his son and figures very importantly in the film's riveting second half. But acting in a movie this dazzling is bound to take a back seat to the photographic fireworks on display here. If a Rolls-Royce was a movie , I've no doubt it would look like ROAD TO PERDITION.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is one of the best made movies from 2002. Maybe it is not the best
movie, but it looks the best, has great acting and is directed perfectly by
Sam Mendes, who debuted with 'American Beauty'.
It tells the story of a gangster named Michael Sullivan (Tom Hanks) who is seen by his son (Tyler Hoechlin) on one of his jobs. Michael's boss, John Rooney (Paul Newman), thinks things will be okay but his jealous son Connor Rooney (Daniel Craig) sets both his father and Michael up, leading to the death of Michael's wife (Jennifer Jason Leigh) and second son. Michael thinks Rooney is responsible and Rooney has to choose for himself and sends a hit-man Harlen Maguire (Jude Law) to finish the job. Since Michael is a respected man within the organization he tries to win some friends who can help him including mob boss Frank Nitti (Stanley Tucci).
In a way 'Road to Perdition' is a standard gangster movie but it is so well made you almost can not see that. This movie is good in its production design, art direction, sound, music and most of all in its cinematography. All these elements are able to surprise and create suspense although the outcome is pretty certain. That Hoechlin is not a annoying kid and Hanks, Law and Newman know how to act helps, of course.
Based on a comic this movie is so much better than you would expect and although it has it flaws it belongs to the better movies in the genre. Sometimes there are events where you realize you have seen it so many times before, but for some reason it also feels fresh at the same time. The scenes between the adult Hanks and the child Hoechlin help in that area. See this movie that will look familiar at times but is totally new on a lot of areas.
`Road to Perdition' is a rocky road of revenge and reconciliation,
punctuated by some gorgeous Conrad Hall cinematography. Tom Hanks is a
1930's mob hit man whose 12 year-old son sees him commit a murder. The rest
of Director Sam Mendes' (`American Beauty') film is the boy's coming to
terms with that knowledge. Paul Newman plays a `godfather,' a father to his
errant son and like a father to Hanks.
Laced throughout are 3 father-son relationships, which seem to move toward the violent ends reserved for mobsters. Hanks' son is ambivalent about his dad, whom he seems to adore yet hold accountable for his crimes. Newman's son is like Sonny Corleone, too loose to be in charge and no heir apparent; Hanks owes his lifestyle to Newman-all these relationships are subsumed by the business needs of the larger organization.
This is noir with a dark palette, costuming in clothes metaphorically heavy, and sounding often as stylized and minimal as the murders Hanks commits. `Road to Perdition' lacks the grandeur of Coppola's `Godfather' epic, but it succeeds in evoking an old-testament judicial system where eye meets eye and tooth savages tooth. The revenge motif is too dominant to let the film rest on the promising father-son motif.
Hanks' son learns about morality and decides about following in his father's footsteps. Hanks gives another controlled performance, and Paul Newman lets us know there is room for one more powerful screen godfather.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Frankly, this movie has gone over the heads of most of its detractors.
The opposite of perdition (being lost) is salvation (being saved) and this movie is one of a very few to deal with those two concepts. The movie also explores the love and disappointments that attend the father-son relationship. It should be noted at the outset that none of these are currently fashionable themes.
The premise is that the fathers in the move, hit-man Michael Sullivan (Tom Hanks) and his crime boss John Rooney (Paul Newman), love their sons and will do anything to protect them. But Rooney's son Connor is even more evil than the rest. He kills one of Rooney's loyal soldiers to cover up his own stealing from his father. When Connor learns that Sullivan's son Michael witnessed it, he mistakenly kills Sullivan's other son (and Sullivan's wife) in an attempt to silence witnesses.
Sullivan decides he wants revenge at any price, even at the terribly high price of perdition. Rooney, who in one scene curses the day Connor was born, refuses to give up his son Connor to Sullivan, and hires a contract killer named Maguire (Jude Law) to kill Sullivan and his son. So Rooney joins his son Connor on the Road to Perdition.
For the rest of the movie, accompanied by his surviving son young Michael, Sullivan pursues Connor Rooney down the Road to Perdition, and Maguire pursues Sullivan. When Sullivan confronts Rooney in a Church basement, and demands that he give up Connor because Connor murdered his family, Rooney says - "Michael, there are only murderers in this room,.., and there's only one guarantee, none of us will see Heaven." As the movie ends, somewhat predictably, one character is saved and one character repents.
I'm not a big Tom Hanks fan, but he does step out of character to play hit-man Sullivan convincingly, giving a subtle and laconic performance. Newman does well as the old Irish gangster Rooney, showing a hard edge in his face and manner, his eyes haunted by Connor's misdeeds. Jude Law plays Maguire in a suitably creepy way. Tyler Hoechlin plays Young Michael naturally and without affectation.
The cinematography constantly played light off from darkness, echoing the themes of salvation and perdition. The camera drew from a palette of greens and greys. The greys belonged to the fathers and the urban landscapes of Depression era Illinois. The greens belonged to the younger sons and that State's rural flatlands. Thomas Newman's lush, sonorous and haunting music had faint Irish overtones and was played out in Copland-like arrangements. The sets were authentic mid-Western urban - factories, churches. The homes shone with gleaming woodwork.
The excellence of the movie lies in its generation of a unique feeling out of its profound themes, distinctive acting, and enveloping music and cinematography. The only negative was a slight anti-gun message slipped into the screenplay y, the movie's only nod to political correctness.
I give this movie a10 out of 10; in time it will be acknowledged as a great film.
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