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*** Official "ROAD TO PERDITION" Review Thread

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#1 of 26 OFFLINE   Scott Weinberg

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Posted July 11 2002 - 04:42 PM

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 - Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image - (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.

#2 of 26 ONLINE   Robert Crawford

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Posted July 11 2002 - 06:58 PM

This thread is now the Official Review Thread for "Road to Perdition". Please post all HTF member reviews in this thread.

Any other comments, links to other reviews, or discussion items will be deleted from this thread without warning!

If you need to discuss those type of issues then I have designated an Official Discussion Thread.


#3 of 26 OFFLINE   Tyler Ruggeri

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Posted July 12 2002 - 08:07 AM

While I'm not sure I'll be in the majority (most of the reviews today were not as praiseworthy as one might expect), I think this is easily the best film I've seen so far this year. The entire production is first-class, from the actor, to Sam Mendes, cinematographer Conrad Hall, editor Jill Bilcock, and composer Thomas Newman. Mendes definitely scored a one-two punch with this and American Beauty. While I do agree that the film takes a somewhat detached point of view, I found it incredibly involving and emotional. The acting was superb, the aesthetic look on par with any of Conrad Hall's best work, and the score another Thomas Newman gem. I found no flaws in the story and think Roger Ebert's views about the "Greek tragedy" approach and how he believes it made the film more constrained and predictable ludicrous (then again, it's coming from a man who have *** to Like Mike and the Crocodile Hunter recently). Either way, I'd give Road to Perdition **** out of **** or an A.

#4 of 26 OFFLINE   Edwin Pereyra

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Posted July 12 2002 - 09:46 AM

Sam Mendes’ Road To Perdition is a competently made film that pays tribute to the mobster films of yesteryear. I’ll call it a tribute because his piece manages to capture most of the elements of the genre. Production values are high including an evocative score by Thomas Newman, beautiful cinematography by Conrad Hall, a fine editing and some fascinating art decoration and set pieces. Mendes manages to capture some very intense moments in the film and the entire cast is first rate.

Once in a while, a film comes along as a period piece and in a genre that hasn’t been dealt with for quite sometime. It is all the more appropriate to not have short memory and to dig in as to its roots and to which some of these films pay homage to. While Road To Perdition delivers in many areas, it does not have the conviction and most importantly, a compelling story, of previous gangster films from Francis Ford Coppola and Martin Scorsese.

There are those already talking of the film’s Oscar chances. I predict that most of its nominations, if any, will come from the technical side. In addition, because of its violence, the film will probably appeal more to men rather than women.

Road To Perdition is a worthy addition to the mobster genre. It rates Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image (out of four).

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#5 of 26 OFFLINE   Andrew_Sch



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Posted July 12 2002 - 11:17 AM

Just got back from seeing this one at Baltimore's movie cathedral the Senator (I should really be paid for all the praise I heap on that theater on this board). I give it an 8/10 . Some observations: -Excellent cinematography, definitely Oscar-worthy. Everything felt so dark and oppressive and was kept consistently so throughout the movie. What stood out to me was the way the people's faces were lighted, everyone was always half-engulfed in shadow, which may or may not have been metaphorical. And the manner in which the scene outside the bar was shot was simply breath-taking. -Paul Newman was, as always, outstanding. Three moments that stood out to me were the board-room scene, the scene in the church and the scene on the street outside the bar. His facial expressions, especially in the last scene and in the scenes with Nitti, were wonderful. -The rest of the cast was generally good as well, especially Tyler Hoechlin as Mike Jr. and Daniel Craig as Connor Rooney. Tom Hanks was good at being the father-figure and the ganster individually, but I think he could have done a little more with the juxtaposition of these two roles. Jude Law was quite a delicious villain. -The movie's main downfall was its predictability. Maybe I'm too smart for my own good, but I knew exactly how the movie was going to end by about the half-way point. Despite that one caveat, I couldn't reccomend this movie enough for anyone tired of all the mass-produced summer trash.
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#6 of 26 OFFLINE   Van Patton

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Posted July 12 2002 - 12:42 PM

Jude Law's performance at the end made me really want to
beat the hell out of him.
I guess that means he turned in a good performance!!! Everybody was exceptional.

#7 of 26 OFFLINE   TonyD


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Posted July 12 2002 - 01:52 PM

what a great movie. it was a little predictable for the ending but it still made me and my wife shed a tear.
for pain and joy.

i thought it combined parts of SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION, THE GODFATHER and maybe MILLER'S CROSSING.
all that adds up to a wonderful movie.

i saw it at the brandywine regal in delaware and we booth th0ought it looked very soft or even out of focus.

this reveiw from the philly inquirer even mentions the use of deep focus technique. but i thought it was no focus technique.

i may be wrong but isnt that technique best described as all the image being in focus no matter how far forward or behind in the image on the screen?

i hope it was just out of focus at this theater. shouild i see it at another theater?

anyway best movie i have seen this year 4.5 *'s out of 5*'s

#8 of 26 OFFLINE   Patrick Sun

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Posted July 12 2002 - 02:45 PM

I thought it was slow in parts, low key, and then the 2nd act has this bit of out of place levity, and then it goes somber again. I thought the pacing wasn't as good as it could have been. The performances were okay, Newman got the most mileage out of what he was given. Tom Hanks' character was too underwritten and just flat out unhuman to care about (even as he hopes to prevent his son from following the same path as him). The story was too predictable (even with style and panache, I was so far ahead of the film, it did bore me due to the pacing). I give it 2.75 stars or a grade of B-.
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#9 of 26 OFFLINE   Travis_S


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Posted July 12 2002 - 05:04 PM

Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image (OUT OF 4)

Perdition means "damnation", but in Sam Mendes' "Road to Perdition", it is the name of a small town where Michael Sullivan and his son are headed after Michael's wife and son Pete are murdered in a betrayal by the son of Michael's boss, Connor. The movie starts with Michael's son, Michael, Jr., realying the events that occured during the winter of 1931. It is a tale that doesn't break any new ground, or tell anything that hasn't been told. What it is, is a tale told WELL.

Sam Mendes proves that he is not a one hit wonder and makes a stylistic masterpiece. Every frame is filmed with a precision that is unseen in modern film. Take for instance the scene where
Michael confronts John Rooney.
In any other movie it would be a simple scene. Mendes films it in slow motion. Silent, except for Thomas Newman's excellent American Beauty-like score.
Bullets fly, and people fall to the ground during a rain storm.
Another scene, near the end has Tom Hanks' character
looking out the window at his son.
This scene is too great to spoil, but you will recognize it when you see it.

All the fanciest film making couldn't save the movie if it didn't have a good story or good actors to act in it. The story is well taken care-of. It is based on Max Allen Collins' graphic novel (comic book) of the same name. Adapted by David Self, it starts slow and takes its time getting to where it wants to be. Not a moment is wasted. The movie is a very tight two hours. It, like I have said before, is a familiary story. It is basically a story about the relationship between fathers and sons. Whether it be between the Sullivan's or the Rooney's, family is important. It all builds into a cresendo of violence and bloodshed. But the killing is not explicit. Gore hounds will not be satisfied. Most of the killings occur off camera, with just the reaction of the person doing the shooting.

The acting is uniformly excellent. Tom Hanks brilliantly plays against type as the hitman who finally gets to know his son during the worst period of his life. Paul Newman is great in his limited role. His face showing the feelings his character is going through. Newcomer Tyler Hoechlin is great too as Hanks' son who is thrust into his father's violent lifestyle. The showstealer of the movie is Jude Law, as the photographer, Maguire. His macabre fascination of dead bodies is played to perfection during a scene in his house. Every scene he is in, he steals. He too, is playing against type, as the man sent to kill Michael Sullivan. I could go on and on with all of the little scenes in the movie. But it is best for you to experience it for yourself. The best movie of the year.

BOTTOM LINE: A brilliantly shot and acted drama with a simple yet profound story. Definitly reccomended.

#10 of 26 OFFLINE   Adam_S



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Posted July 12 2002 - 05:15 PM

I saw the finest film this year (so far) today. Yes road to perdition easily takes that title so far, it's so damn good. But not as good as Shawshank Redemption. That's what I was thinking when I left the theater, damn, that was a hell of a film, but not quite a Shawshank Redemption. This is in no way a dis to the film, what it means is that this film was immediately vaulted to that league of filmmaking, storytelling at it's absolute finest. let me try to convey the filmmakers that come to mind having watched this film. Howard Hawks, Akira Kurasawa, Frank Darabont, Martin Scorsese, the Coen Brothers, and Francis Ford Coppola. Some of the all time greats, and they've all made films that have clearly influenced this film (well maybe not Darabont, but he's there because of above mentioned reference to Shawshank). Kurasawa especially, the literal use of atmosphere and climate to convey a mood and foreshadow actions is evident throught the film. Good God the cinematography, Conrad hall is a unparalleled genius. the use controlleled focus coupled with a brilliant sense of staging and compositions forces the eye to exactly the right place of the frame at the precisely perfect moment for the eye to be there. Ohh and there are performances there too. How does one begin to pick between Jude Law and Paul Newman for best supporting actor? they're both so damned good, it's ridiculous, not to mention that Hanks is utterly brilliant throughout with an incredible understated and magnificent performance. And teh child that plays Micheal Jr. Good grief he's fantastic! Damn but if this filmi isn't good all over, I have a delicious feeling that I will like it more each time I see it (another feature of Shawshank). This movie is damned near perfection, beautiful, amazing, brilliant, wonderful, (insert similar adjectives here), film. I'm going to see it again, probably with my dad this time. Posted Image Everyone, GO SEE THIS FILM!!!!

MY god how did I forget the score, umm it's damn good, very, very damn good, I"m going to buy it, I love it, beautiful haunting, wonderful music. Great stuff. Yay Thomas Newman!

#11 of 26 OFFLINE   Blu



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Posted July 12 2002 - 05:15 PM

Great movie! Simple plot, incredible acting, elegant cinema!

#12 of 26 OFFLINE   JohnS



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Posted July 12 2002 - 09:50 PM

Road to Perdition **** out of 4 This was one great movie. I thought the story was written well. Sam Mendes's direction was great, especially the last scene. Hanks gives a good performance, but not Oscar worthy. Jude Law should also get a nod, he also plays his character off well.(which I really liked his character by the way, very interesting) The ending is what really brings the whole movie together.


#13 of 26 OFFLINE   Carol Razavi

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Posted July 12 2002 - 10:35 PM

Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image out of Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image

The scene where
Max confronts John Rooney at the end had me almost in tears. I know he was the supposed bad guy, but Newman portrayed Rooney so well that I felt sorry. You could tell Mike and John still loved one another.
My jaw dropped in the scene. It was so beautiful and powerful. I haven't felt this way since LOTR in Dec.!

The end
Although I knew it was coming, it still hit me like a ton of bricks, and I cried a little. Ahh, I'm a fuckin baby. hehe

I want to call my Dad now.Posted Image

See this movie! I think too many critics we're expecting the next Godfather. This isn't like that movie at all, I agree with others that this is like Shawshank (***** of ****, my fav of all time) This joins it as one of the best I think. Beautiful all around. Don't pass it up b/c of other critics poor expectations. I think this is better than what most were comparing this to!

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#14 of 26 ONLINE   Robert Crawford

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Posted July 13 2002 - 06:23 AM

As others have stated, this is one very fine film! It's a simple story that takes place over a short, six week period of time, but it was very effective in detailing the sometimes, awkward and confusing relationship that takes place between father and son. It flushes out how really difficult it can be to really know what a person is all about and how they really feel about you, even in a father and son relationship.

The acting performances were all great. I liked the way Hanks underplayed his role and emotions, but as a man who's profession deals with death everyone should have expected a character that is somewhat detached and aloof. Paul Newman is somebody that I always enjoyed and one of the best personal experiences in my lifetime was meeting him by chance in a shopping mall in Connecticut and actually shaking his hand. While most would have asked for an autograph, I felt a handshake was more appropriate and satisfying especially when you meet somebody that you sincerely admired from a distance. Anyhow, it was great to see him in top form in another great film. Jude Law gave another top performance which was against type. The young actor that played Michael Jr. was excellent and I see a bright future for him. All other performances were very good as you should expected from such actors as Leigh, Tucci, and Craig.

The musical score was excellent and there's no doubt that I'm going to buy the cd. Conrad Hall's cinematography was excellent as always and Mendes's direction in this film was spot on which was quite different than what I thought about his last film effort.

In closing, some have said, this film was predictable and the ending not surprising which might be true, but being predictable doesn't necessarily mean the film was any less satisfying. Knowing the profession of Hank's character, the film ended as it only could have because otherwise, it would become a little more manipulative like many current films. Though, I guessed the ending almost at the beginning,
the last 10 minutes of this film still left me on pins and needles because I didn't want the film to end that way, but I also knew it was the only logical ending left for a film detailing a man not wanting his son to follow in his terrible footsteps and to hopefully, be a better man than he was.

Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image out of four stars!


#15 of 26 OFFLINE   Wes C

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Posted July 13 2002 - 07:24 AM

Great movie go see it!!!! A+

#16 of 26 OFFLINE   Zen Butler

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Posted July 15 2002 - 04:27 AM

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#17 of 26 OFFLINE   Mark Hobbs

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Posted July 15 2002 - 05:50 AM

Excellent movie and a fine piece of filmaking. A delightful detour from the usual summer fare. My first perfect rating of the year and easily ousts Spidey/Star Wars from the top of my 2002 movie list. 10/10

#18 of 26 OFFLINE   ChrisMatson



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Posted July 15 2002 - 06:54 AM

I saw Road to Perdtion over the weekend and thought it was a very good movie. Perhaps my expectations were too high, but I can't see this as a Best Picture contender. I thought the acting was superb. The cinematography was fantastic. But I felt that the movie didn't come together. It was like the parts were better than the whole. The story seemed predictable, but that doesn't rule it out as a good movie. Some movies from 2002 that I enjoyed more: 13 Conversations About One Thing Y Tu Mama Tambien Minority Report My Big Fat Greek Wedding About A Boy Insomnia Road to Perdition would still make my top 10 of the year so far.

#19 of 26 OFFLINE   todd stone

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Posted July 28 2002 - 10:28 AM

Just came back from the movie with my g/f. We ABSOLUTLEY loved this film. Tom Hnkas, delivers yer another masterful piece of entertainment to the big screen.

Jude Law, although we didn't see enough of him, was excellent as well.

This movie very much so had a feel of "shawshank redemption"

Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image out of Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image
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#20 of 26 OFFLINE   Jan H

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Posted July 28 2002 - 01:08 PM

I can't remember a film where the whole was so significantly less than the sum of its parts. The acting is strong, the cinematography superb, the production design first-rate, and the script is a work of solid craftsmanship. I'm shaking my head in disbelief at how good the movie is, and how little it made me feel at the end. An utter mystery...

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