Sunday, July 10, 2011

REVIEW: Road to Perdition (2002)

Director: Sam Mendes
Starring: Tom Hanks, Tyler Hoechlin, Paul Newman, Daniel Craig, Jude Law

"Well, I suppose it was because Peter was just...such a sweet little boy, you know? And you were more like me. And I didn't want you to be."
-Michael Sullivan

Road to Perdition is a very calculated and paced movie that moved its heavy weight rather slowly through the movie's various plot points. A story about an assassin whose son finds out what he does, this movie doesn't have any big, obvious emotional hooks, but rather a set of deftly placed and well done movements that, at the end, add up to something spectacular.

This is a movie that shows us what a father doesn't want to pass onto his son, and it tells a story about the consequences one faces due to his life choices. In the end everyone reaps the consequences of the life he's sown, and that's what Michael Sullivan (Tom Hanks) wants to impress onto his son, also named Michael (Tyler Hoechlin). The relationship between the two is spectacularly done through subtle nuance and quiet, understated care – for most of the film, they do not outwardly talk about Michael Sr.’s assassin job at all, and when they do, it’s brief and honest. Most of their dialogue comes through the way Michael Sr. protects his son when they get attacked, or just when they’re driving along through the dreary plains, exchanging very few words. Tom Hanks plays Michael Sullivan as a very quiet, somber figure who I just find fascinating. You just end up wondering what’s going on in his head. He’s a very tormented character, except he doesn’t ever really show it.

The story itself is big and powerful and sweeping once it gets off the ground, and by the end I was captivated wholly. There are a lot of really excellent things going on here from the powerful cinematography to the arresting acting. The finale is not a happy one, but it does manage to grab the viewer in an iron vicegrip and not let go. This film is about the relationship between family and about owning up to the consequences of what you’ve done in the past. It is singular, affecting and incredibly atmospheric, and you will be missing out if you do not watch this one before you die. One of those great movies that doesn’t come around every day.