This is not your typical crime film with blood, guts and violence; it is more like a work of art. In the hands of a talented director it has become a story of loyalty, honour, vengeance, and family. Director Sam Mendes (American Beauty, Revolutionary Road) has shot such a visually beautiful period crime film that it might bring a tear to your eye. His shots are exquisite and demonstrate that he obviously loves the story along with the period.
It is the winter of 1931 and aging Irish American crime boss John Rooney (Paul Newman) leans heavily on his second-in-command, Michael Sullivan (Tom Hanks – You've Got Mail, Big). The two are so close that Sullivan sees Rooney like a surrogate father and vice-versa. He basically performs all the "hits" that his boss requires.
Rooney has given a "hit" assignment to Sullivan and his own son Connor Rooney (Daniel Craig – Casino Royale, The Golden Compass). Connor botches the job badly. Accidentally Sullivan's son (Tyler Hoechlin – Solstice) sees him and the botched job. In the aftermath, Sullivan's wife (Jennifer Jason Leigh – Greenberg, Margot at the Wedding) and youngest son (Liam Aiken – Sweet November, The Object of My Affection) are killed. A witness being alive is not something that Rooney can tolerate, so the boy must go. Sullivan is not about to kill his own son or allow him to be killed and now finds himself and the boy on the run while trying to figure out who double crossed him. Rooney has hired another hit man (Jude Law – Closer, Repo Man) to kill Sullivan.
Everything from language to music to costumes to locations to actors is bang on in this film. Hanks tones down his usual hamminess for this role and only reveals the layers of emotions of his character towards the end of the film. The totally masterful Paul Newman, who received an Oscar nomination for his work in the film, expertly plays the role of a man in a position of power who is getting older and weaker and knows it, but tries to maintain his hold over people. Jude Law is just creepy scary as the hit man after Hanks.
Despite the fact that this is a crime film it is a lot more subtle than films of this genre usually are. Things move slowly in the film, but it is well worth it to stick with it. It is, however, much more impactful a film than you would expect.
-A Cinematic Life: The Art & Influence of Conrad Hall
-The Library: A Further Exploration of the World of "Road to Perdition"
-The Making of "Road to Perdition"