Sam Mendes directed what is likely going to be remembered as his greatest film with Road to Perdition (2002). Mendes approached his direction with a steady hand alongside his cinematographer, Conrad L. Hall, to create haunting visuals for his mobster drama.
Every scene is shot so beautifully that many of the images from Road to Perdition are burned into my brain now. The rain sequences, in particular, are so visceral to witness that they offset the brutal violence so nicely.
David Self's script is a wonderful testament to fatherhood and loyalty with many crime saga themes. Max Allen Collins' comic series is brought to life with punching lines of intense bluntness and clever dialogue of biting wit.
Thomas Newman's score is composed of lovely piano melodies and tender sweeping symphonies that sound of forlorn pains akin to those suffered by the gangsters within the film. Road to Perdition's score underscores the serene tone and bittersweet excitement of bloody gunshots throughout the film.
The cast of Road to Perdition is phenomenal all around. Tom Hanks is gripping as the hit-man gone rogue for revenge. Hanks plays a stoic father and a menacing figure dealing out a hail of bullets with ease. His quiet nuanced performance gives you everything you need in a leading man. Hanks is cool, strong, thoughtful, and patient as Michael Sullivan. Tom Hanks gives, perhaps, his peak acting in Road to Perdition.
Paul Newman is a revelation of subtle, yet intimidating acting in Road to Perdition. In what was Newman's last great role, he finds the heart of Irish mob godfather John Rooney with his gentle and likewise fearsome performance. Newman understands the character is a man who has killed his whole life to attain peace for his sons, while regretting all his bloodshed. His final words on screen are ground shaking. Paul Newman was a classic cool actor and Road to Perdition is a respectable way to go out with a bang!
Jennifer Jason Leigh is excellent as Hanks' wife Annie. She is the kindly mother that can be stern as needed. Leigh completely captures a realistic suburban mom involved with the mob. Jennifer Jason Leigh is always a top tier actress and Road to Perdition is no exception.
Jude Law is terrifying as Macguire. His sleazy assassination and corpse photographer persona is an unsettling combination. Law gives one of his best performances as you cannot forget his cruel and sudden violence.
Similarly, Daniel Craig gives one of his most memorable roles in Road to Perdition. His rapidly unnecessary violence feels so monstrous and callous. Craig plays the self-righteous creep with ease.
Lastly, Stanley Tucci and Ciaran Hinds both display fantastic quietly threatening characters in their respective supporting roles. They manage to mesmerize while they are on screen. I must mention the excellent performance from the young Tyler Hoechlin as Michael. His attachment and respect for Tom Hanks is clear as his acting is very convincing for such a young boy.
In conclusion, Sam Mendes might never have matched his early success with his erotic drama American Beauty (1999), if not for his riveting gangster thriller Road to Perdition. This film should have won Best Picture over The Pianist in all honesty.
- Actors: Gary L. Karas, Tom Hanks, Lamont Kelly, Ted Andre, Paul Newman
- Directors: Sam Mendes
- Producers: Richard D. Zanuck, Dean Zanuck, Sam Mendes
- Format: Dubbed, Subtitled, Widescreen
- Language: English
- Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
- Dubbed: French, Spanish
- Region: Region A/1 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
- Number of discs: 1
- Rated: RestrictedR
- Studio: Paramount
- DVD Release Date: May 9, 2017
- Run Time: 116 minutes
- Customer Reviews:
- ASIN: B06XKRF1XJ
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #20,574 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)