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Pretty Crappy: 5.26%
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8 reviews, 85 user ratings

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Road to Perdition
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by EricDSnider

"Thank goodness someone still takes the road less traveled in filmmaking."
5 stars

"Road to Perdition" is a film where all the elements come together so organically that you can't imagine it succeeding without every part intact.

Calling it a Tom Hanks vehicle doesn't do justice to the director, screenwriter, cinematographer or supporting actors, and calling it a Sam Mendes film, in honor of the director, neglects everyone else. This movie could have relied on any one of its strengths and let the other jobs by filled by less talented people; instead, it strives for, and achieves, excellence in nearly every area. It is one of the best films of the year.

The subject matter is tricky: Our protagonist is a killer. Worse, our protagonist is a killer played by Tom Hanks. He is Michael Sullivan, who grew up without a father and was taken in by Irish organized crime boss John Rooney (Paul Newman) in the suburbs of 1930s Chicago. All Michael's young sons, Michael Jr. and Peter, know about their dad is that he "works for Mr. Rooney," who is like a rascally grandfather to them.

One rainy night, Michael Jr. (Tyler Hoechlin) hides in Michael's car and sees him and Rooney's son Connor (Daniel Craig) carry out a mission that ends in several deaths. The younger Sullivan is horrified, his father no less so upon learning what his son has witnessed.

Michael assures the Rooneys that his son can keep a secret. John seems convinced. Connor, already established as a hot-head, is not so sure. Some terrible things happen, and then the two Michael Sullivans are on the road, seeking to perform one last mission that will put a stop to the killing forever. (The younger Michael leaves his bicycle behind in the snow, a fitting homage to the lost sled in "Citizen Kane.")

Someone in the film says, "Sons are born to make trouble for their fathers," and "Road to Perdition" is basically a film about the father-son relationship. What Michael Sullivan wants more than anything is for his son not to follow in his footsteps. What his son wants is his father's approval.

This is only Mendes' second film, after "American Beauty," but already he commands attention. His work is smooth and careful, and he embraces subtlety.

He wisely re-teamed here with his "American Beauty" compatriots Thomas Newman, who wrote the haunting Irish-themed score, and Conrad L. Hall, whose cinematography is a work of art. Everything is attractively framed and handsomely photographed; like most great films, this one is as enjoyable to look at as it is to listen to.

We're so used to seeing Tom Hanks act brilliantly that his excellent work here seems like par for the course. Watch his eyes. He acts with them, and he says more with them than with his dialogue. Michael Sullivan may be a killer, but no one with Tom Hanks' eyes can be a truly bad man. He will probably be nominated for a well-deserved Oscar, as will Paul Newman, whose piercing blue eyes convey a lot in his performance, too.

Jude Law is noteworthy in a small role as a grisly photographer who does freelance work for Rooney, and Stanley Tucci is characteristically reliable as an associate of Al Capone's. Young Tyler Hoechlin carries a heavy load admirably as Michael Jr.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=4750&reviewer=247
originally posted: 07/12/02 03:00:52
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Palm Springs Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Palm Springs Film Festival series, click here.
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User Comments

4/05/20 Jamie Surprisingly hollow movie, boring even. A shame considering the director & cast 2 stars
9/13/17 morris campbell overrrated imho 1 stars
10/08/09 MP Bartley Elegant and beautiful, but Mendes keeps you at arms length from the emotions of the piece. 4 stars
6/28/09 budo Very good movie. Dark, as it should have been. 5 stars
12/20/08 Shaun Wallner Kept me on the edge of the seat! 5 stars
3/02/08 ladavies I liked this movie. Maybe Tom Hanks was miscast, but it really held my interest. 4 stars
3/01/08 Pamela White slow with a few redeeming qualities 3 stars
5/17/07 ES Didn't hate it, didn't love it 3 stars
11/16/06 Alyssa Hale Booooring!!! Terrible 2 stars
9/07/06 Thomas Semesky Interesting characters. A little slow at times. Enjoyed Jude Law's character the best. 4 stars
8/03/06 Quigley Very good acting, music and screenplay. Even when Hanks plays a bad guy he still rules. 4 stars
6/08/06 Frank Rountree Another waste of Tom Hanks time. 2 stars
3/09/06 Wiseman Exellent Mob film. 5 stars
9/30/05 Jonathon Holmes a great mob film 5 stars
9/12/05 Melody Film that falls apart midway through - not at all believable! 2 stars
7/12/05 malcolm Godfather-like. Hanks awesome as usual. 4 stars
3/26/05 indrid cold Gorgeous production, but surprisingly boring. Jennifer only in it for about 45 seconds! 3 stars
3/07/05 Dan GREAT! 5 stars
2/21/05 Captain Craig Hanks should stay away from bad guy parts. Its just not him! 3 stars
12/12/04 Nicole The ending is great! 5 stars
10/17/04 Naka Flawed, could have been much better. but still thouroughly excellent. 4 stars
10/16/04 Pollo Great movie. Just see it!!! 5 stars
9/13/04 Daveman Gorgeously photographed but plodding and emotionally hollow, quite a waste of time. 2 stars
6/25/04 Karen Stockdale Wonderfully acted and wonderfully filmed - this film oozes quality and class 5 stars
2/24/04 Soulis with all this acting talent, I was hoping for more 3 stars
2/16/04 ettore morello Near to Godfather 5 stars
1/27/04 x-nonymous A damn good piece of gangster cinema. 5 stars
1/17/04 steve andrews The film shows patience with it's slow crescendo. Hanks eyes speak more than the dialouge 5 stars
11/30/03 I Would A story with so much potential turned into a piece of Hollywood fluff. 3 stars
8/10/03 Nicole Great movie 4 stars
8/04/03 Shane Myers!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! A very well scripted movie!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 4 stars
7/26/03 Monster W. Kung Melodramatic, predictable, and cartoonish, partially saved by good cinematography. 3 stars
6/14/03 Jack Sommersby High style can't hide a cliched script, yet it's watchable. 3 stars
6/05/03 Charles Tatum Really a perfect film 5 stars
5/28/03 Mr. Hat (I'm Back Mo'Fos!!!) Dude, Conrad Hall is the coolest cinematographer. Camerawork is GREAT. 5 stars
5/17/03 George Jung One of the best films of 2002. 5 stars
4/28/03 Jin Best film I've seen in a long time. Hanks was astounding! 5 stars
4/17/03 Phil M. Aficionado Excellent cast provides solid entertainment; not A+ though 4 stars
4/17/03 Doc Shock Enjoyed this flick. 4 stars
4/05/03 Jessel Great atmospheric movie with a solid plot. Hanks excels. 5 stars
3/13/03 brentley Very enjoyable. Newman deserved the Oscar nomination. 5 stars
3/02/03 R.W. Welch High body count mob pic with outstanding turn by Newman. 4 stars
3/01/03 Rob P S Superbly done from top to bottom. 5 stars
2/06/03 123 stylish, well acted 4 stars
2/02/03 crazyquiverlips best movie of the millennium 5 stars
1/28/03 fraz not much of a story but beautifully filmed & superb understated acting 5 stars
1/18/03 Monster W. Kung Average, nothing more, nothing less. Comparisons to The Godfather are simply moronic. 3 stars
1/14/03 alien assassin I hope Paul Newman receives an Oscar for his performance 5 stars
1/05/03 . Just a great movie, if u like mob stuff, this one is great! 5 stars
12/12/02 Heat-seeking Mistletoe Tom Hanks as a mob hitman? Works in a sort of foul-tasting way 3 stars
12/06/02 ownerofdajoint astudyonhowepeopleonaresometimesdoomedfromthestartandfreewillisthetalkofrichfolks 4 stars
12/03/02 George Jung The best movie of 2002, but that's still not saying much. 5 stars
11/21/02 Merrie Wonderfully acted to a wonderful story line 5 stars
10/27/02 Yakov Friedland beautiful and mesmerizing, a dream rising from hell 5 stars
10/15/02 James Renwick Nothing great but worth seeing 3 stars
10/14/02 paperboy the road to sedation is more like it. 3 stars
10/11/02 Jens Boooooring, like "In the line of Fire". Only worse 2 stars
9/30/02 Paul Murphy Good enough film, but somwhat overated 4 stars
9/11/02 Bueller Epic. Newman is incredible. Law is disgusting. This is one of the best films of the year. 5 stars
9/01/02 Mark Struzinski GOOD STUFF!!! 5 stars
8/27/02 James Drake This movie is fucking awesome, without a doubt will win Oscar for best film. 5 stars
8/25/02 Tony Erik is a bit too much in love with his own prose to get the point of the movie. 5 stars
8/23/02 I Can't Swim No big deal. Why everyone is creamin in their pants is a mystery to me 3 stars
8/18/02 Mr. Hat (I'm Back!) The greatest camerawork ever! 4 stars
8/16/02 LyonHeart44 Darkness on the Edge of Town, transferred to film. Of course I loved it. Summer Oscars. 5 stars
8/16/02 Scott Dont bash it for not being the Godfather. A great story of revenge. Perfect camera angles 5 stars
8/10/02 Suzz exquisite film making 4 stars
8/06/02 Al Q Bobson Not the next "Godfather." It's pulpy and too tidy. Pretty, though. 4 stars
8/05/02 Christine Distinctly common -- A disappointment 3 stars
7/28/02 stoolie-bird nuttin' special....and who couldnt see that ending coming a mile away! 3 stars
7/27/02 max zhang Tom Hanks is a gangster = me as an intimidating black man 2 stars
7/25/02 Jon Not bad. But not great either 3 stars
7/22/02 Bueller Oscar nom. worthy perfromances from Hanks, Newman and Law. A darkly told Father-Son story. 5 stars
7/22/02 Cris Quite good. Cinematography was top-f'in-knotch. 5 stars
7/18/02 Kriperace Pretty, but the plot has holes big enough to throw a dog through. 3 stars
7/17/02 Dieter Multiple, flashing phone lines? Please. As boring and average as "American Beauty." 3 stars
7/15/02 Ryan E. Welshans Extrodinary, an Oscar winner no questions about it 5 stars
7/15/02 d. G. Platt I felt the film was dark, slow and lacked a lot. I think Hank could do better. 3 stars
7/15/02 ajay the actors and director made this movie. Plot could've been better 3 stars
7/14/02 John Hefner Keeps you on the edge of your seat 5 stars
7/14/02 Jimmy James wonderfully shot and acted, plot is meh 4 stars
7/13/02 The Bomb69 awesome moviemaking, loses one star because it was predictable 4 stars
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  12-Jul-2002 (R)



Directed by
  Sam Mendes

Written by
  David Self

  Tom Hanks
  Jude Law
  Paul Newman
  Stanley Tucci
  Jennifer Jason Leigh
  Tyler Hoechlin

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