Road to Perdition (2002) Poster

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Simply Beautiful
archienhi2 March 2005
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.)
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Hall Leaves On A High Note
ccthemovieman-12 March 2006
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 ever see.

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.
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A subtle masterwork of a great forthcoming director!
brooksmurphy-19 September 2002
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 an emotional wheel; playing the basis character for the story. And veteran Paul 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.
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Despite what you may have heard, it's an awesome movie
fsuplaya200317 July 2002
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.
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Road to No Where
dafuzzbudd15 June 2009
Let me start this off by saying this movie is beautiful. By a technical standpoint, perfection was achieved. I'll remember this movie as proof of example; outstanding direction/cinematography cannot fully compensate for a lackluster plot.

On paper, the plot is an average set up. Relationships in a crime family are tested, but none are ever stretched too far. In this sense it feels somewhat familiar and not very original.

But what does keep this movie from being average-blah, is the care put into EVERY shot. I give a huge amount of credit to the cinematographer. A good amount of noticeable techniques were used. I particularly liked one symmetrical pillar shot that used a zoom in dolly in trick. A slight variation of the Vertigo introduced, zoom in dolly out.

But with all of these wonderful shots I noticed something. There was so much technically stunning camera work, I found myself completely drawn out of the story. Was this done intentionally? To some degree I think so. This nicely compliments the dark and rainy 1930's settings.

Noticing this I tried to put more thought into the plot. There basically was none. The characters were cold and lacked development. Any dialog is important and used sparingly. I couldn't stop myself from drawing comparison to The Godfather. What Road to Perdition lacks is any underlying intensity between the characters. I never feel like they were a tight-knit family and do feel as if I'm simply watching characters play their parts. The story has no poetry and feels more like a collection of parts that aren't worth its sum.

I appreciate it in its stunning visuals, but once the credit rolled I felt nothing. And I find no reason to return back to it.
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A true masterpiece
Juni78ukr19 August 2005
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
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A Rolls-Royce Movie
mpofarrell13 July 2002
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.
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Great Film!
gottogorunning9 August 2005
Warning: 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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`Road to Perdition' is a rocky road of revenge and reconciliation, punctuated by some gorgeous Conrad Hall cinematography.
jdesando9 July 2002
`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.
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Sometimes familiar, but always good
rbverhoef23 August 2004
Warning: 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.
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Among the most beautiful films in history
ctuavocado11 October 2004
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.
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One of the greatest movies of all time
tutzauer23 July 2002
Warning: Spoilers
Having been driven out of the house and into the theater by the sweltering heat, I could not have been more pleased. The Road to Perdition, directed by Sam Mendes (American Beauty), is destined to become one of the greatest movies of all time. Perhaps I'm just getting old; perhaps I've just seen the same themes recycled time and again. But this movie is indeed different.

The story opens with young Michael Sullivan Jr. facing out to the sea, contemplating the duality of his father's legacy -- one of the best men to ever live, one of the most evil. This duality snakes its way throughout the movie. The story revolves around crime boss John Rooney (Paul Newman) and Michael Sullivan (Tom Hanks), the young man Rooney once took in and who now serves as his personal "Angel of Death." Rooney is tied by blood to his own son, but tied by love and loyalty to Michael. Young Michael Jr., intrigued by the stories he reads, steals away in his father's car one night while Dad goes off to "work" with Connor Rooney, heir to the family "business." Connor lets the situation get out of hand, and what was meant only to be a warning turns into murder -- witnessed by Michael Jr. Upon the discovery that young Michael has seen what he should not have seen, the plot is set in motion as conflicting loyalties collide. Soon, Michael Sr. is on the run with his young son, pursued by contract killer Harlen "The Reporter" Maguire (Jude Law).

I will disclose no further details in order to avoid any potential spoilers. However, I strongly encourage viewers to examine the many dualities that present themselves in the movie: Problems between sons and fathers (Michael Sr & Jr., John Rooney & son Connor), between the world at home and the world at "work", between good and evil, between those who pretend to be men of god and those who really are, between "clean" money and "dirty", between the town of Perdition and Perdition as hell. And along the way, savor the visual brilliance of cinematographer Conrad L. Hall (9 nominations, 2 oscars for best cinematography): rain pouring off fedoras, shots through mirrors (especially on swinging doors), tommy-gun flashes from out of the shadows, absent any sound. Not only has 75-year-old Hall given us perhaps the best cinematic product of his career, but 77-year-old Paul Newman offers one of his best performances ever.

Yes ... I may be getting old. But I've seen a lot ... and this is fresh and invigorating. The Road to Perdition presents a lasting and loving tribute to the gangster genre, to films of the 40s, to dark comic-book figures lurking in the darkness, to villains and heroes, to American film in general. Go see it!
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Unique depth
vildehumberset30 April 2012
This film really catches the viewer, and takes it on a trip back in time, into an atmosphere that is quite chilling and very interesting. Tom Hanks is really cast in a new light with his role as a father who does unorthodox work, and with a personality which at first seems quite cold and distant. He plays so great - I have to say that this film have given me a whole new view of him as an actor. His son is also played very well, and the whole cast is great. I love everything about this film. It is definitely worth watching - for the atmosphere, tension, father-son- relationship, great dramatic scenes, brilliant actors and most importantly: Every single character has a depth that is unique in a film this short (two hours) - you really get each and every character. So high on detail that it is a great experience to watch.
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"...sons are put on this Earth to trouble their fathers."
classicsoncall21 January 2012
Warning: Spoilers
I've seen this film four or five times now and it never ceases to amaze. There's both power and nuance in the performances of the principal players, totally miscast some would say, with Tom Hanks as a gangster/hit-man, and Paul Newman as an organized crime boss who's been like a father to him. That presumption is totally without merit, as both actors deliver incredible performances in this tale of betrayal and revenge set in the winter of 1931.

With each viewing, I'm more and more impressed with the subtleties offered by the actors and director alike. Consider the following scenes - the Sullivan's abandoning their home along with young Michael's innocence as symbolized by the bike left behind to rust in the snow; the bead of sweat meandering down the side of Michael's face in the diner scene opposite his intended assassin (Jude Law); son Michael's negotiating for two hundred dollars as his share of the bank jobs; the hit on Connor (Daniel Craig) as viewed via his reflection in the swinging door of the bathroom in which he died.

This is a finely crafted tale that demands close attention. Initially, one would believe that the elder Rooney (Newman) ordered the hit on Michael Sullivan with that visit to Calvino. But it was Connor's doing all the way, then botching the rubout of the remaining family by only taking out the wife and younger son. The senior Rooney's angst is palpable, realizing that his own flesh and blood is inept and unworthy of forgiveness, but unable to reconcile his fatherly instinct to preserve his own. The single fault I find with the characterization of the principals is during the failed attempt on Sullivan in the hotel room. After Maguire (Law) is disabled by the shards of glass, the elder Michael should have put an end to the chase right there.

Interestingly, the story makes clever use of placing real life gangsters in the story's plot, naming Mafia kingpin Al Capone as an off screen presence, and using his top henchman Frank Nitti (Stanley Tucci) to bridge an untenable truce between the rival parties. The violence in the picture is never overdone, unless one is squeamish about the up close and personal type of vengeance as administered by professional hit men.

With any other film, the ending might have been a tear jerker affair, but there were no clean hands here. All of the principal characters were flawed in their own way, including young Michael, portrayed by Tyler Hoechlin in a stellar role. Narrated from the perspective of a twelve year old son's coming of age, "Road to Perdition" earns it's place as one of the top gangster films of the modern era.
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An Absolute Masterpiece,
jackc03412 December 2011
Road to Perdition is a simply amazing movie that was sadly overlooked at the Oscars. The acting was brilliant and I, who am not normally a fan of Tom Hanks, was simply blown away by his performance. Not only Hanks but Paul Newman and Jude Law were also great. Combined with a poignant story and stunning cinematography Road to Perdition is one of the best movies I've seen in ages.

The story of a relatively well-off family living during the dark times of depression. 13-year-old Michael Sullivan Jr. has no idea that the family's money comes from his father job as a hit-man for the local mafia and when he begins looking for the truth his life changes forever as he accidentally becomes a witness to a murder.

An amazing feat of storytelling and cinematography (not to mention acting), Road to Perdition really is a masterpiece.
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Great Performances Paper Over Any Minor Flaws
Theo Robertson29 November 2005
ROAD TO PERDITION can be summed up by Thomas Newman's score . It's haunting and beautiful but you're aware that this music is similar to Newman's other work and while listening to the soundtrack you're reminded of SCENT OF A WOMAN , MEETING JOE BLACK and THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION you're reminded of other films as the story unfolds on screen . As the Sullivans drive round America trying to escape from a psychotic hit man you think of THE GETAWAY , Irish gangsters is MILLER'S CROSSING whilst the subtext of guilt and redemption can be summed up by Coppola and Leone's gangster epics. Despite having a seen it all before feel this shouldn't be taken as a heavy criticism of Sam Mendes film which I repeat is haunting and beautiful and the only flaws that work against it is a very slow opening twenty minutes and I was slightly confused as the events that caused Michael Sullivan to be betrayed . But if you stop to consider how much of a sentimental mess Spielberg might have made with the story that revolves around a father and his twelve year old son running for their lives you can't help thinking what a superb director Mendes is

ROAD TO PERDITION is a film where the entire cast give flawless performances . I've never been all that keen on Tom Hanks but he's every bit as good here as he has been in any starring role , probably better . Paul Newman plays a character with an Irish accent but at no point did I believe I was watching an American screen legend putting on a false accent - Newman's performance works due to the subtle body language , his character is torn up by guilt but Newman never milks it or goes over the top . While never upstaging Newman who gives the best performance in the movie the two Brit supporting actors Craig and Law are also very memorable as American gangsters and while Law will still have a long career as a leading actor one wonders how Daniel Craig might have progressed as a character actor if he hadn't decided to become James Bond , a role which heralds the end of an actors career
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Camera, Camera, Camera. Its over.
vishal_wall13 October 2006
Warning: Spoilers
An innocent lad gets involved in his father's underworld business by accident. This is my interpretation of the film. I don't doubt that director's intentions were the same but I think it was either poor execution of the idea or may be screenplay did not have anything new at all in the first place. I think it was all about cool shots in the rain, lighting and camera movement. Road to perdition would have been a much better film if it was not hijacked by the cinematographer. Through out the film shots are so well composed that you forget the character itself. It looks as if you are sitting in front of a TV to witness composition of each frame and not the story. I think the story is good for one hour. In the first half an hour you don't know what's going on and that the only interesting part. Once you know the characters there's nothing to watch except for rain, suits and car. Extremely overrated film. Acting wise I don't think there was a scope for any great stuff. Recommended only for film students. 7/10
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Road to redemption
StevePulaski18 April 2012
Road to Perdition is one of the few films that tries to recreate the film noir genre, while basking in the modern light. Its use of light, shadow, and water can all be classified as stylistic, and its cinematography could also get it elected into a genre so admirable. The film follows Michael Sullivan Sr. (Hanks), a hit man working for an Irish Mob boss (Newman) in 1930's Illinois. Sullivan has a loving wife (Leigh) and two plucky kids Peter (Aiken) and Michael Jr. (Hoechlin), yet tries to keep his sons oblivious to his involvement in the mobster lifestyle.

One day, Michael Jr. sneaks out to see his father and a mentally unstable mob member Connor (Craig) murder a man in a warehouse. Despite assuring Jr. won't tell anyone, Connor goes to Sullivan's house late one night and kills his wife and his youngest son Peter, mistaking him for Jr. While Sullivan and Jr. flee to Chicago, it isn't long before Sullivan's former mob boss sends an assassin (Law) to track him down and kill him. The film becomes a relentless journey of trying to leave behind an old lifestyle and start a brand new one through a child.

What must be lauded is the use of dark and grim cinematography; the last work of Conrad L. Hall who died shortly after the film was completed. When the film is dark, it is still beautifully lit by source lighting and little intricate elements such as headlights and streetlights. From what I've seen of the graphic novel, written by Max Allan Collins, it was, like the film, ominous, dark, and very, very serene.

Road to Perdition also has a great amount of symbolism, which I favor over ambiguity any day. One of its biggest motifs is in the use of water and rain. The event is woven in when death comes up in the film, sort of commenting on the randomness of humanity and the fact that death, like rain, is instantaneous and sometimes virtually unpredictable. Rather than being blatant, it's woven in the film so naturally and subtly you may miss it.

Hanks gives an electrifying performance as a stressed father, focused on achieving redemption through his son. He believes that the sins he committed are unforgivable and irredeemable. All his life he has been involved with complex underground operations, contentious relationships, and secrecy from his loved-ones. He feels he hasn't been a proper father, and believes his son can do way better. On a little side-note, the acting from both Tyler Hoechlin and Jude Law is excellent as well, and audiences should pay attention to little side performances that will likely go unnoticed because of a lot of enigma on screen.

This is a cold, bittersweet film for much of its runtime. It's hard to watch and difficult to recommend. It doesn't strive to be so much a gritty, honest mobster tale as it does try to be a parable of father and son relationships and a tragic take on innocence lost. I think many will agree that Road to Perdition is a pretty shameless Hollywood film. From voiceovers, to big name stars, to cinematography, to storytelling, to the hefty budget, to morals, writing, and tone, it's all the components of a straight-forward Hollywood tale. That's not a bad thing. I, for one, would rather see a big budget Hollywood epic than a poorly done, incompetent indie work. It isn't until that indie work has proved itself to be more than meets the eye will I choose it over a Hollywood epic.

Starring: Tom Hanks, Paul Newman, Jude Law, Daniel Craig, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Liam Aiken, and Tyler Hoechlin. Directed by: Sam Mendes.
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Really, this was a good movie.
galaxy25014 April 2004
I really would like to say that this was one of the most beautifully done movies I have every seen. (And I'm not talking about cinematography)The actors were superb, the setting was amazing and The theme behind it was really amazing and there was a message behind it. There was a bond between the father and his son. The movie has heart. It has a real meaning and a real message. And that's hard to find sometimes. The end it stands out in my mind. It has been almost two years since I've seen it, and it still sticks with me. It is a true gem. This is not a movie with the dazzling special effects, but it doesn't have to be... It's the message behind it that counts.
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Tom Hanks at his finest
FJbeauty10 August 2005
Warning: Spoilers
This is a beautiful film. The true tale of bond between father and son. This is by far, Tom Hanks at his finest. Tom Hanks is really out of the box in this movie. He usually has the nice guy roles. Yet in this film,he comes off in this film as a bit gritty, but still emerges smelling like a rose, even until the very last scene, the assassination of his character. The cast of this movie was well put together. I also love the part when there is total silence when Tom Hanks' character shoots and kills all of the men in Mr. Rooney's group. There is something chilling and yet profound about no sound in that scene, just simply emotion. I love the look on John Rooney, Paul Newman's character's face when he realizes even before seeing him, that it is Tom Hanks's character getting revenge, and he knows his fate has come. The first time I saw this movie I was blown away and knew I had to go out and get the video and I since have, adding it to my collection of my all time favorite movies.

Tom Hanks is my favorite actor, so this film has a special place in me.
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One of the most beautiful films ever made.
frankjohnsson200010 August 2005
Warning: Spoilers
This one is a looker. And what i mean by that is---just take a look at the beginning and you see what i mean...The music is like it's from "The Shawshank Redemption" (If you haven't seen the Shawshank Redemtion...see it NOW). It's unbelievable....everything is right...Tom Hanks performs as a hard man...a hit-man for Paul Newman.

This is a revenge movie...meaning that Tom Hanks have to get revenge...everone that has seen Tom in movies like "The Terminal", "Cast away" and "Forrest Gump"...has to think new...Tom is great as an nowhere near to smiling killer. This movie is totally great.

SPOILER WARNING!!!! When Tom fires at Newmans men in the rain....that is a classic....the scene i so beautiful i just can't believe it. Maybe the most beautiful scene ever made.

I can't believe how good Tom is an actor...and credit's to all of the all did a GREAT job.
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A must see
emilywildes16 June 2005
An excellent depiction of one of the more unwholesome aspects of that era. I loved the visuals--very fitting for a story connected to a graphic novel.

I thought Tom Hanks was really great in this, he came across very well as someone who has been hardened by his work (which he didn't fully choose for himself) but still wants to have a normal life for his family. He does the best he can to see that happen. DOn't want to spoil the plot--but YOU HAVE TO SEE this movie if you are a person who wants more from a movie than the usual shoot 'em up action/gangster format. (It is violent though.)
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Atmospheric, Beyond the normal gangster film
anubus7011 May 2004
I've seen this film 5 times and every time I get immersed in the atmosphere of the era, the brilliant lighting, great acting by all the actors, photographic editing - everything, really. In my top 10 best gangster films of all time. Classy on all counts, and the piano solo tears my heart out every time. Truly an adult film in all aspects. Along with The Usual Suspects, The Professional, Godfather(s), Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels, Goodfellas, Snatch, Millers Crossing, La Femme Nakita, Once Upon A Time In America, Oceans Eleven and another few I can't remember right now - Take it to the desert island with you when you get marooned. This film better be in the top 250 or I'm outta here.
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Great direction, sluggish plot, good (if not great) performances – not a classic but a good film™
bob the moo20 September 2002
Michael Sullivan works for John Rooney. When Sullivan's son, Mike, hides in Sullivan's car to find out what he actually does for Rooney he finds that his father is a hired gun, a gangster if you will. Mike sees his father and Rooney's son Connor kill three men. Connor begins to suspect that Mike could tell someone and thus expose that Connor is stealing his father's money and goes to kill the family. His attempt on Mike and Sullivan fails but his wife and other son are dead. Sullivan and his son take to the road, with Sullivan's desire for his son's safety only slightly behind his desire for revenge on Connor.

I have a problem with modern films. No. I have a problem with how modern films are hyped. Can't anything just be good anymore? It seems everything either has to be rubbish or a masterpiece. Look how many films jump straight into high positions in the imdb 250 list to see what I mean. But on top of that films are advertised as being amazing etc rather than slightly more subdued messages.

Here we have the `best gangster film ever made' and `better than the Godfather'. Neither of these statements are true but that's not to say that it is rubbish. It's a good, often wonderful film that is as good in some ways as it is poor in others. I was lucky to approach it with not having read reviews and mostly managing to miss the `epic' trailers that are everywhere – and I was the better for it, with no expectation then you can't be let down!

The plot is a little predictable in how it develops and where it ends, but it's still enjoyable. The weakness of it however is the use (or misuse) or the parental theme. Where was it? The foundations were laid with Sullivan and his son, Rooney with his son and a father/son thing between Sullivan and Rooney. But what was done with it? Very little – apart from some minor bonding between the two Michaels. It felt like there was more there that either wasn't or didn't come out. The story felt heavy at points too, the relationship between the two Michaels didn't flow and there were too many scenes which felt ponderous. I didn't want more action but I wanted it tighter or at least with a bit more soul behind the dialogue and the characters.

The cast is like a heavy weight boxer and therefore I did expect it to hit harder. To be blunt – Hanks is not right for this role. A lot was made out of him being a `bad guy' but was he really playing a bad guy? He tries hard to not overplay it and lose the audience but I felt the film was trying to give him as much moral leeway as possible. The majority of his killings are in the name of revenge which, in film morals, is fine. The only killing before the death of his family we don't see him do, and we have him say `we're just going to talk?' before hand and then shout at his partner for putting him in a killing situation. Compare this to Leon (aka The Professional) – he is cold and ruthless and we love him more for his emotional growth and love. Here Hanks only really shines when being friendly or in the rare comedy moments. I felt he laced the ability, the desire or maybe the audience acceptance to be able to play `bad' and take his character beyond it into a development.

Newman is good in a few scenes but isn't working too hard for his money. His role is good but it's at his tiredest when he does well. Law is excellent despite his cartoon villain character – he is best in his early scenes and his first meeting with Sullivan is good. Tucci is good and Leigh is good for all she has to do. Craig is good value and is very well cast. Hoechlin is very good and deserves the Oscar nomination that he will no doubt get for supporting actor. But none of these were the powerhouse performances I had hoped for with such a top class cast available.

The star of the film is Mendes himself. People were surprised by how well he directed in his debut and if he got an Oscar for that then he simply must have one for this. Ignoring the weaknesses in plot, pacing and some of the performances, visually this is stunning. Normal shots from cars and of snow are really well set up and shot, while the tour de force is a shoot out in the silence, in the rain where the camera's focus is on one man's resignation and almost ignores the carnage all around. The clichés of the plot and the slight ponderous feel of the beast may distract but I found myself admiring the shots and noticing the imagination Mendes showed in his direction. There are so many well directed or clever scenes in this that I almost forgot that this was not the norm for films.

Overall it isn't rubbish and it isn't the best gangster film ever made™. Instead it is a good film about parental relationships and revenge that doesn't really address either. Instead it feels sluggish at times and could have had more spark from a talented and deep cast. But Mendes makes everything feel and look clever and makes the film better. `A really good multiplex experience despite the failings' – put that one your poster!
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brilliant film
r_m_kirk11 January 2005
i think that this film is brilliant.there are many reasons why but these are some of them 1)the good acting by Tom and Tyler 2) brilliant machine gun scene that was a piece of brilliance 3) i thought that the ending was a good twist because i never expected that at the end all credit to Sam well as a these 3 points the film form of the film is good as well. i am a film student at college and we studied this film in great detail and it was one of the best films i have seen in many years. i'd just like to say a big thank you to all of the people involved in making this film. lastly i would like to say the best scene in the film is the machine gun scene where John Rooney gets kill it is just pure brilliance in shooting the scene in silence until John Rooney says " i'm glad it's you" it is a lot better like that i think because the viewer creates there own sound and that sound is totally different for every viewer just brilliant.

thank you for reading this comment written by Ross Kirk aged 16
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