Written by David Self
Directed by Sam Mendes

Running Time: 1:57

Rated R
for violence and language.

Tom Hanks
as Michael Sullivan

Tyler Hoechlin
as Michael Sullivan Jr.

Paul Newman
as John Rooney

Jude Law
as Maguire, aka 'The Reporter'

Daniel Craig
as Connor Rooney

Stanley Tucci
as Frank Nitti

Monsoon Wedding
Monsoon Wedding




Perdition: 1 a) archaic : utter destruction b) obsolete : LOSS - 2 a) : eternal damnation b) : HELL.
Tom Hanks leads an all-star cast in the mob drama Road to Perdition. A well-acted, well-directed if sometimes overly dramatic film, I can see why everyone says Perdition is already at the forefront of next years Oscar race.


Tom Hanks plays Michael Sullivan, a hit man for mob boss John Rooney (Paul Newman). One night while on a mission to talk to a 'problem', Sullivan and Rooney's son Connor (Daniel Craig) gun down 3 people. And the hit is witnessed by Sullivan's young son Michael. Realizing that Michael having this knowledge is dangerous, Connor tries to have the entire family killed, but Sullivan and Michael survive, while Sullivan's wife and youngest son Peter do not. Michael and Sullivan are forced to leave the area while Rooney, also realizing that having Sullivan and Michael alive isn't good for business, has Frank Nitti send someone after them. Sullivan soon comes to realize that the only way he can ever escape is to turn the tables on Rooney, and seek vengeance on Connor, the man who killed his family.


Road to Perdition was a very well made film. Well acted, well directed, well written. Well lit, which is something I don't tend to notice all that often. The music was good and appropriate. The sets were well made. There really wasn't much wrong with the movie. I thought at times though, it did tend to get a little overly dramatic. Too many times there were people hiding in the shadows then slowly walking into dim light. There were a lot of those shots where you see the top of someone's head (or hat, lots of hats) then they slowly tilt their head up and look menacing. But these are rather small problems in relation to the entire film.

Director Sam Mendes' last (and only other) film American Beauty had this same sort of deliberate pacing, where everything on screen had a point. There were no shots that were extraneous, nothing that was out of place. Everything had a purpose and it made the movie that much better. Paying attention to details is an art that is lost in this day and age, especially for bigger budget films with big stars. Most films are looking to make all their money back opening weekend, so they go for the high octane action and leave the story in the dust. Perdition takes care to give you a moving story about a father trying to do what's best for his family and protect his remaining son from the life he had to lead. Tom Hanks does play a bad guy in the film, he does after all intimidate and kill people for a living, but at the same time has that heart of gold when it comes to his family. Even though killing people is wrong, you still want him to get rid of his enemies to protect his son.

Hanks plays Sullivan as a very quiet but still intimidating personality. Almost reserved, even when shooting people. But the real focus of the movie is on young Tyler Hoechlin as Michael. He is at the heart of the film. Everything that happens, happens due to him. If he hadn't hidden in the car and watched Connor and his father kill those three men, none of this would have happened, so the weight of the movie is on his shoulders. And he does a good job of holding that weight even when on screen with two of the big screens biggest talents. The thing I thought about was, you know you're going to get great performances from Hanks, Newman, Tucci and Jude Law, but if Michael's character was played by someone else, the movie wouldn't have been as good, so my hat is off to Hoechlin for helping make this movie a success.


So overall, I would highly suggest seeing Road to Perdition. In a summer full of sequels and movies with a lot of explosions and no stories, this movie is a treat.

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reviewed 07/14/02

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