In Road to Perdition, Tom Hanks plays a hit man who finds his heart. Michael Sullivan (Hanks) is the right-hand man of crime boss John Rooney (Paul Newman), but when Sullivan's son accidentally witnesses one of his hits, h... more »e must choose between his crime family and his real one. The movie has a slow pace, largely because director Sam Mendes (American Beauty) seems to be in love with the gorgeous period locations. Hanks gives a deceptively battened-down performance at first, only opening up toward the very end of the film, making his character's personal transformation all the more convincing. Newman turns in a masterful piece of work, revealing Rooney's advancing age but at the same time, his terrifying power. Jude Law is also a standout, playing a hit man-photographer with chilling creepiness. This movie requires a little patience, but the beautiful cinematography and moving ending make it well worth the wait. --Ali Davis« less
Solid Hanks and Newman entertaining but it still seemed to be missing something by the time you got the end.
Lisa B. (redbusc) from YORBA LINDA, CA Reviewed on 1/8/2012...
Well worth watching! As another reviewer has said, it is slow in some spots, but has a terrific story line and is touching.
0 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.
Robyn P. from WAYCROSS, GA Reviewed on 11/27/2007...
One of my favorite movies. If you love the Godfather, you'll love Road to Perdition. It's my favortite Tom Hanks movie.
1 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.
"There is only one guarantee. None of us will see Heaven."
Mary Whipple | New England | 11/27/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This suspense-filled story of hitman Michael Sullivan, directed by Sam Mendes, has as much style and cinematic brilliance as his American Beauty, though it is much darker. Sullivan (Tom Hanks), the adoptive son of John Rooney (Paul Newman), is a cold-blooded killer working for his crime boss "father" in the winter of 1931, when his own twelve-year-old son, Mike Jr., inadvertently witnesses a "hit" in which his father participates.
Subsequently, the Sullivans, father and son, take off for Chicago to meet with Frank Nitti (Stanley Tucci), underworld lieutenant to Al Capone. Mike Sullivan, Sr. is also hoping to get to Perdition, an appropriately named Midwestern town, so he can leave is son with his sister-in-law. Sadistic hitman Harlan Maguire (Jude Law), who enjoys photographing the death throes of his victims, is soon on the Sullivans' trail to through the midwest.
Conrad L. Hall, to whom the film is dedicated, uses photography to its fullest advantage winning a posthumous Academy Award for his cinematography. Shot in winter, the film preserves the flavor of early black and white films, with sharp contrasts, and the use of dark, somber colors, when colors are used at all. Snow, ice, rain, and fog perpetuate the cold darkness of the scenes, and Hall's use of architectural framing is stunning, particularly his repeated use of windows. He keeps the scenes simple, often focusing on individual characters in contexts which reveal their emotional states. In one memorable scene, for example, light from a streetlight outside a window casts the shadow of rain on an interior wall, suggesting both tears and cleansing.
Newman is terrific as an aging mob boss, playing his part with just the right mix of frailty and cruelty (for which he was nominated for an Academy Award). Tyler Hoechlin, as 12-year-old Mike, Jr., reveals his fears and vulnerabilities at the same time that he shows his satisfaction as the center of his father's attention (winning Best Young Actor from the Broadcast Film Critics Association). Jude Law, made up to look like a true, wild-eyed psychopath, is terrifying. Hanks looks menacing and acts viciously until his concern for his son overtakes all other emotions in a moving, climactic scene, though it is difficult to accept him in the role of a hitman.
Period music adds style to the film, and original music by Thomas Newman (and the title song by John Williams), mostly piano and strings, preserves the period tone. Filled with the horror of violence and considerable suspense, this noir film gives a human face to mob violence in the thirties. Mary Whipple "
Only Michael Jr. has a chance to get into Heaven
MICHAEL ACUNA | Southern California United States | 07/15/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Sam Mendes' "The Road to Perdition" is a film about family: extended, brother against brother, father and sons and ultimately father against sons. It's about the world of Men in much the same tradition as "East of Eden," which it thematically resembles. Mendes tackles big ideas here: the sanctity of the family, a father's love of family, a father's right to protect his family and a natural versus an adopted son's place in a family (the right of succession). But Mendes uses the small details of life to develop these themes so that his lofty ideas have a pervasive as well as persuasive effect on the viewer.
Michael Sullivan (Tom Hanks) is a family man (2 sons, Michael Jr. and Peter) who works for John Rooney (Paul Newman) as a bodyguard and hit man. John has a son, Connor (David Craig)who is intensely jealous of his father's relationship with Michael. It is obvious that John prefers Michael: strong, obedient, intelligent, over his natural son, Connor: weak, smarmy, conniving, underhanded, hotheaded.
One evening, Michael Jr., eager and curious to find out what exactly his father does for a living, hides in his father's car while Michael Sr. goes out on a "business call" with Connor to strong arm an associate that ends with Connor recklessly killing the associate with Michael Jr. witnessing the entire event.
This proves to be the turning point in the film and the event that sets the remainder of the film in motion: can Michael Jr. be trusted to keep his mouth shut? Connor has some definite ideas about this.
One of the most impressive set pieces of the film is a showdown between Michael and John Rooney and his henchman on a public street at night in the pouring rain, shot with absolutely no sound nor blood in sight. It is as effective in it's way as the last, very bloody scene in "Bonnie and Clyde."
Conrad Hall has shot the film in a dark, grayish, almost colorless palette very similar to
"The Yards," also coincidentally a film about a family involved in crime. The criminal life for Hall and Mendes then is not the chiaroscuro life that Coppola envisions it in his Godfather trilogy, but one of black and gray signifying a life of hiding, back alleys and drudgery devoid of color, enjoyment and living. The music is also extremely effective and evocative especially since Mendes has shot large portions of the film without dialogue.
The acting is top drawer with Tyler Hoechlin as Michael Jr. almost stealing the picture away from the always effective Tom Hanks, Jude Law and Paul Newman.
Sam Mendes has fashioned a film of the utmost purity and beauty: a tone poem to the family and to the father-son relationship in particular.
"The Road to Perdition" is a film that resonates with regret and sadness but more importantly an over-riding feeling that, as gangsters "getting into heaven"as John Rooney states... is not a possibility."
No warm and fuzzy Tom Hanks here
Joseph Haschka | Glendale, CA USA | 07/27/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"ROAD TO PERDITION is a major departure for Tom Hanks. He kills people. And don't expect to see Meg Ryan as a cutely tousled co-star. Besides, it rains so much in this film that it would've made her look like a wet doggie.It's 1931, and Hanks plays Michael Sullivan, an enforcer working for crime family head John Rooney (Paul Newman). Though Rooney has an adult son, Connor (Daniel Craig), he regards Michael with the affection reserved for the son he wishes he'd had. Sullivan himself has a wife and two boys. In the film's first half-hour, Connor botches a job assigned to him and Michael by the elder Rooney. In the aftermath of the debacle, Connor kills Michael's wife and his youngest (and favorite) son for reasons too complicated to explain here. For the remainder of the film, Sullivan goes on the lam with Michael, Jr. (Tyler Hoechlin) seeking revenge against Connor while evading a hit man named Maguire (Jude Law) reluctantly hired by John Rooney to pre-empt the reprisal slaying of his own badly behaved offspring.Those who are turned off by ROAD TO PERDITION because of the bloody deeds performed by Hollywood Good Fella Hanks, akin to watching Jimmy Stewart in the role of someone who kicks puppies, are perhaps missing the point. This is a powerful tale of the dynamic that exists between fathers and sons: John and Connor, Michael and Michael, Jr., and John and Michael. This is a Guy Story to be sure. Indeed, in the entire film there's no female lead worth mentioning and very little softness. Much of the magnificent cinematography is done in the dark, brooding atmospheres that one could expect in the Male's Cave. That's not to say that there's no humor. There's a sequence of scenes depicting the young Sullivan's mastering of driving skills that, in the context of the storyline, is positively priceless. Early on, Newman, the mega-star of yesterday, and Hanks, the mega-star of today, play a piano duet (for real). But the sentimental favorite of ROAD TO PERDITION has to be the former, and I foresee a nomination for Best Supporting Actor. Newman's blue eyes continue to shine out of a face that age (and perhaps cosmetic surgery) has only made more striking. Moreover, Paul's Rooney expresses more raw emotion in his relationship with his son than Tom's Sullivan can manage in his. Perhaps this was an intentional part of the script, or perhaps it's a reflection of the accomplished old pro that Newman is and Hanks has yet to be. And Law is especially good as the sinister and creepy Maguire whose hits provide fodder for his day job.I liked this film a lot because it focuses on the nature of the father/son relationship, something which Tinseltown usually ignores. This is likely to be one of the better films of 2002."
Dark, somber, meticulously crafted. One of 2002's best
Matthew Horner | USA | 03/02/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Road to Perdition" is brilliantly conceived by director Sam Mendes ["American Beauty"] and stunningly photographed by the late Conrad Hall, whose illustrious career garnered him two Oscars and ten nominations. One of those nominations is for this film. Tom Hanks, Paul Newman and Jude Law, among others, give great performances. It is among the best movies of 2002, but it is only fair to warn potential viewers that this is no lighthearted joyride. It is an unrelentingly dark and somber tale; `perdition', after all, is another word for hell. The year is 1931, the place is a small town not far from Chicago. Prohibition has spawned a nation of thugs and gangsters. Legitimate businesses have become hubs of criminal activity. The town is run by a ruthless Irish family headed by John Rooney [Paul Newman] His real son, Connor [Daniel Craig], is his cynical, hot-headed heir, and his adopted son, Michael Sullivan [Tom Hanks], is his enforcer. A great rivalry exists between the two sons. One rainy night, one of the Michael's boys, twelve year old Michael Jr. [Tyler Hoechlin], hides in his father's car and goes along on a job. What he witnesses forever changes his life, puts the rest of his family in mortal danger, and gives John the perfect opportunity to rid himself of his rival. It also gives Michael Sullivan his only chance to see that his son does not become like him. The movie is beautifully rendered in dark tones, giving it the look of a nightmarish dream. This is appropriate because the story is told from the boy's point of view and is a memory from his childhood. "Road to Perdition" is not intended to be realistic. It, like the graphic novel it is based on, is a fantasy. It plays like an updated Greek / Shakespearean tragedy, and its mood is almost operatic. From a commercial point of view, it might have benefited from a bit more levity, but I admire Mendes, a true artist, for keeping his vision consistent and true. It is a movie which will be remembered long after most of 2002's releases are forgotten."
Crime and Punishment
Danilo Soares | New York, NY | 04/05/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Director Sam Mendes' highly anticipated follow-up to 1999's American Beauty didn't reach the level of excellence of the Oscar-winning masterpiece; nevertheless, it certainly delivered. The film boasts an Academy Award-winning team both on and off screen. It is a story about crime, guilt, redemption, and, above all, family.
Tom Hanks plays Michael Sullivan, a depression-era father of two and hitman for mob boss and surrogate father John Rooney (Paul Newman), who has always loved him more than his real son, Connor.
Their lives are changed forever when Sullivan's older son, Michael Jr., witnesses one of his father's hits, which leads Connor to kill Sullivan's wife and little kid.
What follows is a wonderful tale of love and survival, in which Sullivan and his son must save their lives.
The reunion of Sam Mendes and legendary DP Conrad Hall gives the film an unprecedented visual flair, a true feast for the eyes. The grayish monochromatic cinematography, the reflex of rain on the faces and walls (in a Sam Mendes film, rain marks the anticipation of death) and the touching Thomas Newman score are all works of genius. Not to mention Hanks' remarkable performance of a mysterious and mythic father figure.
One could point to the melodramatic ending or to the fact that Michael Jr. is immune to violence in the midst of all the bloodshed that ensues.
In my opinion, the scene of the murders in the rain is one of the best shot scenes in recent film history.
I can't wait for what Mendes is up to next."