When I first heard about Road to Perdition, I had trouble picturing Tom Hanks as the bad guy. Here we have Hollywood’s all-around great guy Tom Hanks playing cold-blooded mobster Micahel Sullivan. Ehh? Actually, in watching the movie, it begins to make sense, as Tom Hanks’s presence contributes greatly to his character’s ambiguous morality; anyone else, and we’d probably just hate him.
Road to Perdition is the latest from director Sam Mendes, of American Beauty fame. Tom Hanks plays the hitman and essentially adopted son of local mob head John Rooney. He carries out Rooney’s day-to-day tasks, which includes killing people. In exchange for his services he gets security for himself, his wife, and his two sons; financial and otherwise. One day, his older son, Michael Jr. (Tyler Hoechlin) realizes that he has no clue what his dad does and decides to secretly tag along with him on one of his “missions,” which turns out to be a murder. He is discovered, and Rooney’s son Connor (Daniel Craig) isn’t too happy. Connor resolves to kill the whole family rather than hold any concerns. The two Michaels survive, however, and find themselves hunted, making vengeance very difficult. Oh, and in case you were wondering, the movie is not very happy; in fact, it’s very sad throughout. But it’s good, I looked it up, it’s called a Drama.
The best scenes in Michael Sullivan’s quest for vengeance were the interactions between him and his son, who was appalled by the nature of his work and was reluctant even to hold a gun. These scenes were the most memorable, with the most development; the movie is essentialy about the bonds between father and son. In the movie there are the blood relationships between Sullivan and son, and Rooney with his son. There are also bonds between the elder Rooney and Michael Sr. Unfortunately, blood bonds are thicker, and that is what starts the mess in the first place.
The action in the movie follows around the Sullivan’s journey to the town of Perdition and also a symbol for Hell. They take to the road, robbing banks of Al Capone’s money along the way, all the while wanting revenge on Connor. A hitman (Jude Law) is hired to bring down the hitman, and the second half of the movie is quite a suspenseful game of cat and cat. Law is sinister in his role; he makes you think of him as weasel. The film follows a storyline that is Grecian in nature. The characters do not seem to have free will; their destinies were set by the gods long ago. In that way this movie differs from other mobster dramas. In movies like The Godfather the characters seem to be able to decide their own course of action, and that is just not the case here.
The movie is a technical masterpiece. Conrad L. Hall’s cinematography was excellent. The movie looks fantastic. After he finds out what his father does for a living, Michael gets back into the car with his father, and they have a chat. The rain is pouring down in this scene, and it apperas that the Sullivans are crying through the rainfall. If Hall doesn’t win the cinematography Oscar, I will be a sad man. The costumes and sets are all top notch.
This movie is definetly worth seeing, and is destined to win awards. Good to see a serious movie in such a silly season.