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Road To Perdition
cast: Tom Hanks, Paul Newman, Jude Law, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Stanley Tucci

director: Sam Mendes

117 minutes (15) 2002
20th Century Fox VHS rental or retail
Also available to rent or buy on DVD

RATING: 9/10
reviewed by Debbie Moon
Michael Sullivan is a good family man, adored from a distance by his two sons. They live a good life - but in 1930s' Chicago, there's only one way that kind of life can be funded. Sullivan is an enforcer for mob boss Mr Rooney, who took him in as a young orphan and has cared for him like a son ever since. Unfortunately, Rooney has a son of his own, a malicious incompetent who's jealous of his father's affection for Sullivan. When Michael Jr innocently decides to find out what Pop really does for a living, he provides Rooney's son with the excuse to strike out at the whole family. Soon, Sullivan is on the run; his sole thought is to preserve what's left of his family, but with a psychotic hitman on his tail, and the mob deciding that the best way to cover up the incident is to erase everyone involved, that's not going to be easy...
   Adapted from an acclaimed graphic novel by Max Allan Collins, Road To Perdition is a richly layered fable about fathers and sons, and all the tragic misunderstandings and betrayals that force them apart. Tom Hanks delivers a grim, subtle performance as Sullivan, a man of quiet ingenuity and carefully masked emotions. His relationship with Paul Newman's world-weary Rooney, fond 'father' and reluctant enemy, forms the emotional core of the story, paralleling Sullivan's relationship with his own son. Tyler Hoechlin does a fine job as Michael Jr growing into a genuine relationship with his father for the first time as they first become fugitives, then (in a rare moment of humour) turn on the mob and hit it where it hurts - in the pocket.
   Building to a magnificently shot confrontation between Sullivan and Rooney, and then a final tragedy, every image of this epic is lit and framed with meticulous care. At times, that can suggest the film is more style than substance, but the simple story and controlled emotions have their own quiet charms. A resolutely traditional story of honour, loyalty, and fatherly duty, Road To Perdition rewards the patient viewer with terrific performances and a gripping tale of innocence lost.