Road to Perdition (2002)

logoDirector: Sam Mendes

Writer: David Self (Screenplay) Max Allan Collins, Richard Piers Rayner (Graphic Novel)

Starring: Tom Hanks, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Paul Newman, Daniel Craig, Jude Law, Ciaran Hinds, Liam Aiken, Stanley Tucci, Tyler Hoechlin


Plot: Bonds of loyalty are put to the test when a hitman’s son witnesses what his father does for a living.


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Brilliant Gangster Revenge Film


Story: Road to Perdition starts with the idea that Michael Sullivan has many stories about him and we will be focusing on one six week journey with our narrator. We are in 1931 America where we meet the Sullivan family, we have father Michael (Hanks) mother Annie (Leigh) and children Michael Jr (Hoechlin) and Peter (Aiken). We learn the Michael works for notorious crime boss John Rooney (Newman) and his partner is John’s son Connor (Craig).

Michael is a hitman for John but when the latest talking turns messy Michael Jr becomes a witness as he learns what his father really does for a living. John is all out to make whoever pay for the murder but can’t take out his own son. Connor decides to take measures into his own hands setting up Michael while he takes out his family. John knows the consequences he will have to face so puts Connor into hiding and Michael and his surviving son Michael Jr looking for revenge.

John ends up having to make the decision to let Frank Nitti (Tucci) find someone to finish the job and take Michael out which leads to the hiring of eccentric Maguire (Law) a hitman in his own right with a day job of a photographer. Michael decides to work on getting their attention in his own way while spending time bonding with his son teaching him the tricks of the trade.

Road to Perdition does manage to give me a gangster film I actually enjoyed watching, I have always found gangster films repetitive and tend not to enjoy them too much. I like the revenge angle but I really did enjoy the fact that it wasn’t just the leader going for the kill but he has the reluctantly has to agree the kill. We also get to have a coming of age bonding film between father and son who haven’t spent the time together they could have before the catalyst. I do like the pace the story unfolds and the final moments are shocking even though the opening does hint at something happening. This is an enjoyable even if it is slightly bleak gangster film that changes the way you will see the genre. (8/10)


Actor Review


Tom Hanks: Michael Sullivan is the hitman with a family who ends up having to go on the run from his former boss after his family is murdered. Michael ends up planning his revenge his way by making the criminal underground fall apart. Tom plays the role you wouldn’t be used to seeing him play here as an almost anti-hero showing that he can step away from his good guy persona. (9/10)


Paul Newman: John Rooney is the crime boss who has to make the difficult decision once his son takes things too far, he does respect Michael and is devastated by their murder but has to call for the kill on one of his most trusted men after his son starts the job. Paul gives a good performance as the criminal boss. (7/10)


Jude Law: Maguire is the hitman assigned kill Michael, he has his own way of doing his job which includes taking photos of his crime scenes before selling them. Jude gives a good performance but I really wish we would have seen more of his character. (7/10)


Daniel Craig: Connor Rooney is the hot head partner of Michael whose execution of well-respected mob member leads to him going after the Sullivan family before being hidden for his own protection from a vengeful Michael. Daniel shows how his acting was improving and his stardom was ready to rise. (7/10)


Tyler Hoechlin: Michael Sullivan Jr is the son of Michael who witnesses the execution before having to go on the run with his father after the rest of his family is killed. He spends 6 weeks with his father learning life lessons including driving and fending for himself. Tyler gives a great performance in a role with big name actors where he never looks out of place. (8/10)


Support Cast: Road to Perdition has supporting characters they turn up to help both sides in the battle, they all end up being generic gangster film characters though.


Director Review: Sam Mendes – Sam does a great job directing this one making the film genre watchable without being all about the gangs and an inside revenge film. (8/10)


Crime: Road to Perdition puts us into the shady world of crime boss and how easy it is to get onto the bad side of them however loyal they seem to be. (9/10)

Drama: Road to Perdition manages to give us a great drama about a father and son relationship going on with a gangster revenge story being built up around it. (8/10)

Thriller: Road to Perdition does keep you guessing to what will happen next right up to the end. (9/10)

Settings: Road to Perdition creates an authentic group of settings making us feel like we are in the 1930s. (9/10)
Special Effects
: Road to Perdition doesn’t have too many effects but the blood splatter thrown the gun shots all look very good. (8/10)

Suggestion: Road to Perdition is one to watch, I think most people will enjoy this and it really is one that has to be seen by all. (Watch)


Best Part: I like the intense scene at the diner.

Worst Part: Hard to find one but being picky the beginning gives away the ending.

Action Scene Of The Film: Hotel shoot out.


Believability: No (0/10)

Chances of Tears: No (0/10)

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No


Oscar Chances: Won Best Cinematography and nominated for another 5 Oscars.

Box Office: $181 Million

Budget: $80 Million

Runtime: 1 Hour 59 Minutes

Tagline: Pray for Michael Sullivan


Overall: Easily the best gangster film since the Godfather just with an emotional level that it never achieved.

Rating 82

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