The most reliable person in Hollywood is Tom Hanks, and he does it once again in Road to Perdition, a gangster action-drama based in the 1930's.
Director Sam Mendes' last film was a little known piece called American Beauty, and let's just say that the critical and box office success of that one was enough to convince such actors as Hanks, Paul Newman, Jude Law and Stanley Tucci to join his next project. The expectations were high for the follow-up to one of the best pictures of the last ten years, and thankfully, those expectations were fulfilled.
Tom Hanks stars as Michael O'Sullivan, a hit man who is forced to go on the run with his elder son after he witnesses a murder. His wife and younger son murdered, O'Sullivan runs and hunts at the same time, searching for the man that murdered half of his family. Hanks, like usual, turns in a stunning performance. He is quiet and brooding, dark yet fatherly, and at times heartless, and Michael O'Sullivan marks yet another ambitious project for this actor who cannot fail. Hanks does a terrific job, but the type of role probably won't give him another Oscar nomination.
The movie itself really isn't Oscar caliber either, but only because of the story. Based on a graphic novel, Road to Perdition is basically a tale of vengeance with a dramatic edge. It is dramatic and well told, with a great script and terrific direction, but not necessarily the type of story that generally warrants Oscar nominations. Still, the very fact that I am talking about Oscar worthiness says something about the quality of the film; it is wonderful.
There are a few very short slow parts, but for the most part Road to Perdition flows well. The dramatic scenes are well done and believable, the action scenes are realistic and suspenseful, and there are many comical moments as well.
Tom Hanks is superb, but the rest of the cast is good as well. Paul Newman turns in his best performance in years. Tyler Hoechlin, the young man that plays Hanks' son, is exceptionally talented. The man that really steals the show is Jude Law, a rather good-looking man who here is turned into an ugly, dark and creepy figure that will be remembered as one of the best movie villains of the last several years.
Road to Perdition lived up to my expectations, even though they were high. It's not quite American Beauty, but it's close.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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