A review of Sam Mendes’ Road to Perdition.
One Sentence synopsis: young boy given a gun, money and driving lessons by coolasfuck gangster dad.
My rating: ten rainwater filled trilby hats/10 (just watch the film, you’ll understand what I mean.)
Housekeeping: Road to Perdition (2002), a crime thriller, written by David Self (adapted from Max Allan Collins’ graphic novel) and directed by Sam Mendes runs for approx. 118 minutes.
Every Tom Hanks film I have ever seen has made me cry. And this was no exception. Road to Perdition is one of the best all-round films I have seen in quite some time. It didn’t seem to be lacking in any area of production, which is both impressive and unusual.
The direction and cinematography is divine. There is a moment where Michael snr. is proudly whacking one of his rivals (who shall remain unnamed for the sake of saving you from spoilers). We see only Hank’s face as he fires three bullets towards a bath, placed in a remarkably white en suite. As he walks away, the mirrored bathroom door closes and the victim’s identity is finally enclosed to us, as well as a hearty dose of brains splattered on the wall.
In one of the final scenes, Michael snr. is looking out of the window at the shore, watching his son play with the dog. We see Hank’s lovely, smiling face, the boy happily frolicking in the sand, the water of the lake gently ebbing and flowing (accompanied by the soothing sound of the tide). All is tranquil. And then, simultaneously, we see a dark silhouette emerging in the background. It’s dramatic. It’s tense. It’s everything an audience needs from a film both thrilling and cinematically stunning.
Next, I shall discuss the star-studded cast. In my opinion, this film is cast magnificently. Tom Hanks as Michael snr. was outwardly stern but inwardly kind-hearted and the comic driving and bank-robbing scenes offset his stoic character perfectly. Daniel Craig as the dark and villainous brother was manic and troubled, and for once (since I am in no way the biggest fan of Craig) actually really good. This, coupled with the wonderfully gentle performance of Paul Newman, the rodent-like and peverse Maguire played by Jude Law, the usual brilliance of Stanley Tucci, and Tyler Hoechlin as the innocent and forever curious Michael Jr. makes for one beautiful film.
Finally, the story. Tense, exciting, in places heart-breaking and in more than one way, a coming of age, the plot of the film engages and excites the audience for every single minute of the 118. Although perhaps we can guess a portion of the outcome of the film fairly early, this is not to the film’s detriment. In fact, the viewer simply wishes with all their heart that things do not go the way they are inevitably going to go, and when they do, its all the more emotional.
An absolute must watch for any fans of gangster films, Tom Hanks, Ireland, emotional scenes, wonderful cinematography or kitsch diners. So, in short, a must watch for everyone.