|Rating: Rated R for violence and language
Starring: Tom Hanks, Paul Newman, Jude Law
Directed By:Sam Mendes
Ever since I saw the first trailer for Road to Perdition, I knew it was going to be one of the best movies of the year. Don’t ask me how I knew such things, but I just did. Tom Hanks is one of the better actors out there in Hollywood these days, and if you mix him with a plot such as this, you are almost guaranteed to strike gold on a silver screen. So when I found out in July that my local theater was not getting this potentially brilliant flick because of a Theater Chain/Dreamworks argument, needless to say I was a little more than upset. So, the first time since the opening of Death to Smoochy I hopped in my car, drove to Des Moines and visited a Carmike theater, abandoning my normal roots. As I shelled out my $15 for tickets ($7.50 per seat, because I unlike Trevor and Michael have girls that talk to me) I thought to myself, “If this isn’t worth it, I will be very disappointed.” But by the time the lights went down and the film started rolling, I knew I was in for a treat…
Road to Perdition is the story of Michael Sullivan (Tom Hanks), a mobster who works for Mr. Rooney (Paul Newman) during the depression era. Sullivan is known to his friends and foes as the “Angel of Death” Rooney’s top gun, and right hand man. But off the streets, he is known to his family as the quiet, collected family man. But when Sullivan’s oldest son stows away in the back seat of Sullivan’s car when he is off doing a hit, things turn sour. Rooney knows that the young Sullivan could betray him, so he plans to rid the world of the family that could potentially plague him. Sullivan and his son escape however, and hit the road together, being pursued by a strange hitman played by Hollywood star Jude Law. As Sullivan and his son travel the road to a little town named Perdition, they find themselves along the way learning more about themselves and the relationship the two of them never had together…
Director Sam Mendes, director of American Beauty, hits gold again with this film. It may possibly be ”The Godfather” of our generation. Mendes work is one of a cinematic genius, one whose vision can not go unrecognized on the screen. The film starts off a little on the slow side, but that can be easily ignored, because it was needed for the thickening plot later on in the film. Besides seeing the typical mobster, shootem up movie, we are given insight to a story of betrayal of father and son on both a physical and metaphysical level. The movie plays so much on emotion as well as on plot that it simply shines. Each of the characters we find something that tugs at the emotions of the audience. Add a star studded cast, and a wonderfully lighted and wonderfully filmed movie, Road to Perdition is an instant success.
Before heading in, I wondered if Tom Hanks, Hollywood’s wonder boy could pull of the role of a mobster. Sure we’ve seen him attempt to play a variety of roles over the years, and even witnessed him talking to himself on a deserted island for 3 hours just a few years ago. (I talk to myself all the time, but I don’t get people going goo-goo over me, it’s not fair.) Tom Hanks has earned the respect of moviegoers and rightfully so. Hanks pulls this role off with grace as well. His calm collected attitude works for him, and as long as he kept that stone cold look on his face, we were able to see right into his character and appreciate the film even more. Paul Newman, who has earned the respect of moviegoers for years, is wonderful as well and his role as the mob boss, Mr. Rooney, is a performance you couldn’t ask any more out of. His performance in Road to Perdition is as wonderful as Brando in The Godfather (Some other critics on this site may disagree). Jude Law, who plays the hitman tracking the Sullivans, is equally enjoyable, giving you enough of that creepy vibe that makes an audience love to hate him.
Now as I have in every movie I tried to find something to complain about but there was very little in Road to Perdition. I could see many parallels to Mendes other work, American Beauty, such as both Wes Bentley’s character in American Beauty and Jude Law’s in Road to Perdition have a strange obsession with the filming of dead things, and their overall twisted perception of beauty. There were other small things here and there, that subtlety reminded me of Mendes directing style but all in all, Road to Perdition tuned out to be a gem.
Road to Perdition was the movie of the summer. If you missed it, then head to the discount theaters and check it out. Be prepared however to enjoy every second of it. I know I did. As I look back on that night in July, I think to myself Was it really worth the $10 worth of gas, the $15 worth of tickets, and the $8.40 worth of concessions some girl I know made me buy? You bet ya. I wouldn’t think twice about shelling out cash for this film, unless my date was with Toon’s Guy Trevor Soderstrum…