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Sunday, August 7, 2011

Road to Perdition - 2002

 
Michael Sullivan (Tom Hanks) is an orphan who was taken in by John Rooney (Paul Newman) an Irish-American crime boss. Sullivan and Rooney were very close, and Sullivan views him as a father, where he grew to work for him. Rooney sends his own son Connor (Daniel Craig) and Sullivan to talk to an employee about business issues. However, Sullivan's oldest son, Michael Sullivan Jr. (Tyler Hoechlin) is curious about his father's work, so he hides away in the back seat of his car as he goes to do his next job. This goes unexpectedly and Sullivan Jr. witnesses Connor murder and employee. Sullivan believes that his son can keep a secret, but Connor takes matters into his own hands and murders Sullivan's wife and youngest son, while having someone hired to kill Sullivan himself. But Sullivan and his son escape with their lives, and run to Chicago. They will do everything they can to save their lives, even if it requires robbing banks, and Sullivan will try his best to keep his son away from the horrors of the life he has lived, as they grow closer in this adventure.

Road to Perdition is such a wonderfully crafted film, and this is the first film I have seen directed by Sam Mendes. He is really a director who I would like to see a bit more of, because if his other films are as good as this he has towering potential, and I think he could make his mark as one of the better directors of our time. Road to Perdition was nominated for six Oscars, and as far as I have seen from the year 2002, it should have been nominated for more. This film starts slow, but that is needed. It slowly developes the characters while working on the father and son relationship. This is definitely not your regular action packed crime film, so if you are expecting that you may be a bit disappointed. It mainly focuses on the relationship between the father and son, which really opens up towards the end, and is actually quite touching. I found the script to be very good, and Mendes' direction was excellent. It may take quite awhile to unfold, but when it does Road to Perdition is an unforgettable film.

One of the Oscar nominations it received was best original score, Thomas Newman. This was a huge Oscar miss, and believe it or not he has never won an Oscar. Which is ridiculous, considering he wrote the music for WALL-E, Finding Nemo, Little Women, and The Shawshank Redemption. Just those four films are pretty impressive in itself. I think music is an often times overlooked quality in films. It can used to create the feeling and emotion in a film, which is exactly what was done in Road to Perdition. Not only is it an absolutely beautiful score, but it is used at the right times, and really will make you want to cry at certain points of the film. Thomas Newman's musical score here was brilliant, and from what I have heard of him, this is my favorite so far, and that is saying something.

Though as I mentioned earlier, Road to Perdition did bring home one Oscar. Best Cinematography. And for good reason too, from the opening seen I was hooked by the filming alone. Everything was shot so well, and it was all beautiful. That does not come as a surprise to me though, because Conrad L. Hall has a great history. He even won for best cinematography back in 1970 for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Even if you do not enjoy this film, it can still be enjoyed only by its incredible cinematography. Another quality of film that people seem to often not mention when reviewing a movie, inlcuding myself sometimes.

However, for me the most impressive part of this film was the acting, and what a cast it had. Tom Hanks played his part so well, the movie was slow moving, and even his character was a bit slow moving at times, but his heart was in this performance no doubt, and it opens up so perfectly but the final scene. Paul Newman was nominated for an Oscar, and for good reason. Even as an older man he could still act as well, or actually better than he could when he was younger. Do not miss his performance in this. Daniel Craig was another stand out, he may not have been near as famous as he is now, but he acted great in this film with plenty of emotion. Jude Law, who has become a really respected actor in my eyes, was fantastic. His performance was believable, and very well done. The child actor, Tyler Hoechlin, especially for a kid, was also brilliant. Not many kids can stand and act the way he did on the screen. There honestly is not a lot, if anything, to criticise about the performances, they may not have all been Oscar worthy, but they were all good.

Overall, Sam Mendes' work in Road to Perdition is pure genius. The first time I saw this film I didn't think as much of it as I did after my second viewing. The movie isn't just a beautifully crafted, well shot and well acted film. It is a piece of storytelling that does not come along very much in our time, showing the sometimes happy and uplifting, yet quite often tragic relationship between a father and son. Road to Perdition is not a film for mob movie fans, and it isn't for the avergae movie goer, it is for someone who is fully prepared and wants nothing but to watch a story being told at the absolute finest of quality.
 
Rating: 10/10  

6 comments:

  1. Super glad that you like this movie. You're so right. It captures you from the very beginning all the way to the chilling end, and the acting/cast is superb! The story is actually the first of a trilogy that I have heard is in the works to possibly be made. We'll see.

    Nice review!

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  2. Excellent review for a terribly underappreciated movie.

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  3. Brent - The Silver ScreenAugust 9, 2011 at 1:47 AM

    Agreed...totally, a really, really good film. A great cast just tops it all of. I'm with Daniel Roberts as this is undoubtedly 'a teribly underappreciated movie'. I couldn't have put it better.
    It isn't Newman's best role but it was darn near his last, and even at the age he was he could show what great acting was all about!!

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  4. Thanks Daniel, glad you agree!

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  5. Really? Hmmm that doesn't sound like something that I would enjoy. Oh well. Thanks!

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  6. Yeah, I wouldn't call it his best either but it certainly was brilliant. Thanks for reading Brent!

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