Hi again. I'm back with my review for Road to Perdition, a movie I liked and admired a lot, yet didn't really love. I'm looking forward to seeing it again, either way. Here we go: Road to Perdition - - (out of 5) For what's essentially a simply satisfying and beautiful-looking gangster drama, Road to Perdition sure does seem to come holding a lot of baggage: It's the second film for Sam Mendes - coming off no less a film than American Beauty; there's the tentative Oscar buzz and its requisite backlash; it purportedly has affable everyman Tom Hanks offering a decidedly 'nastier' character; and the film is based on a widely-appreciated graphic novel of the same name. Well, expectations only last a few months, while every film inevitably outlasts its own press, and Road to Perdition - as an actual motion picture and not as a topic of conversation - is a damn fine movie. Michael Sullivan (Hanks) is known by his co-workers as 'The Angel of Death'. He's a calm, devoted and stoic figure, a legendary assassin who strikes fear into the hearts of his enemies and beams of admiration from his two young sons. Sullivan is under the employ of John Rooney (Paul Newman), a classy old mob boss who's winding his career down in Rock Island, IL. Rooney also has a son Connor (Daniel Craig), only he's a grown man as well as a despicable and untrustworthy lout. Sullivan's wife (Jennifer Jason Leigh) knows enough about his profession to not ask any questions, while his sons believe Dad and Mr. Rooney are impressive businessmen. It's on one of Michael's more ill-fated assignment that Mike Jr. (Tyler Hoechlin) decides to stow away in the car - and find out the truth about his father's late-night trips. Predictably, the young boy spies on his father as some brutal slayings occur, and Connor promptly discovers him. Though the senior Rooney is sure the boy will keep his mouth shut, Connor takes some painfully drastic measures to ensure his safety and attacks Sullivan's family. Realizing that his son is now the target of assassination, Sullivan and his boy hit the road for Chicago, hoping to enlist the aid of Al Capone's legendary crime syndicate. The biggest joy you'll have sitting through Road to Perdition comes simply by watching great actors act. It's a joy to see Hanks portraying something a bit darker than usual, though his character is by no means the cold-blooded mercenary from the source material. As for Paul Newman, he may keep getting a bit older-looking in each successive film, but he's such a pure pleasure to watch, and the veteran actor gets a handful of really meaty lines to sink his teeth into. The supporting cast is no less impressive, with Jude Law (The Talented Mr. Ripley) as a joyously colorful standout. Playing one of moviedom's most eccentric hitmen ever to grace the screen, Law's performance is a cacophany of bizarre tics and exaggerated affectations. My only complaint is that we should have had more of him. Tyler Hoechlin is grounded and real as Michael Jr., pleasantly free of the precociousness found in many young actors. As Rooney's maniacal son Connor, Daniel Craig (Tomb Raider) delivers an intense, glowering, and altogether spooky character. In a movie populated by less talented actors, Craig would steal the show entirely. Familiar faces Jennifer Jason Leigh and Stanley Tucci pop up in smaller roles, but you always get a little something sweet from solid character actors like these. Story/screenplay: solid stuff. Acting performances: strong as hell across the board. Let's talk about the look of this film. In a word - Wow. If this movie were a car, it would be a slick black BMW, just waxed and shiny from a sudden rainstorm. The cinematography of longtime great Conrad Hall (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, In Cold Blood) is fluid, sleek, crisp as a bell - while the production design of Dennis Gassner (The Hudsucker Proxy) and art direction of Richard Johnson (O Brother, Where Art Thou?) combine to create a gloriously gorgeous glimpse of 1930's mid-America (particularly Chicago) as a backdrop for this icy tale. Though it may not be as 'deep' as most people seem to be expecting, Road to Perdition works successfully on more than one level: it's a crisp and entertaining 'tommy-gun'-style crime drama, as well as a tale of devotion between fathers and sons - be they biological or 'adopted'. The movie features four superlative acting performances, and a surprisngly effective turn from a young newcomer. Road to Perdition is also a movie that's simply a joy to look at, and while those who adore the film's source material may disagree, it's a poignant, engrossing and altogether enjoyable old-fashioned gangster saga. Is Road to Perdition an "Oscar-caliber" movie? Well who cares? If you go in to every "drama flick with a pedigree" expecting Oscar Gold, you're going to be selling some very good movies very short. Oscars come once a year. This is a damn good movie opening today.