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Road to Perdition (2002)

A gangster and his son explore their relationship while on the run

Starring:

Daniel Craig

Jennifer Jason Leigh

Jude LawJude Law

Paul NewmanPaul Newman

Stanley Tucci

Tom Hanks

Tyler Hoechlin

Directed by:

Sam Mendes

Rating: 9/10

Running Time: 112 minutes

UK Certificate: 15

On DVD

Tom Hanks plays Michael Sullivan, a gangster regularly sent to kill people in the course of his work for John Rooney (Paul Newman). He also has a wife and two sons, and comes home to a conventional home life. His wife knows about his work, which they have kept from their sons. This state of innocence lasts until his eldest, Michael Jr (Tyler Hoechlin), hides himself in his father's car and witnesses his father involved in a violent murder with Rooney's adult son Connor (Daniel Craig).

Connor, fearing that the boy will tell what he has seen, sets out to kill him but mistakenly kills the younger brother instead, along with their mother. Rooney, who did not approve this killing, is angry but sends Connor away for his own protection. Sullivan and Michael Jr take to the road, seeking both safety and Connor, closely pursued by contract killer Harlen Maguire (Jude Law). Now beyond the protection of his gangster family, it is his son that Sullivan must turn to for support as they set out for the home of 'Aunt Sarah' in Perdition – a place which both have imbued with idyllic qualities in their own minds.

This isn't just a gangster film, but a father and son story. Sullivan is at once a notorious killer, even amongst other killers, and is at the same time a loving family man with a code of honour that he will not break. This is the story of the six weeks on the road in which Michael Jr comes to truly understand his father.

It's Got: Tom Hanks and Paul Newman. A story that is charming and gripping by turns. An Oscar and two BAFTAs.

It Needs: A slightly less slow first quarter.

DVD Extras All the basics are here, but it is a little short of extras ‘purpose-made’ for the DVD and has a disproportionate number of still images (for example, the biographies and production notes). Extras: Director’s commentary, Deleted scenes with optional commentary, The Making of Road to Perdition, CD soundtrack trailer, Photo gallery, Cast and Film-maker biographies, Production notes. DVD Extras Rating: 6/10

Alternatives:

Goodfellas, The Godfather

Summary

Excellent performances, wonderful cinematography, observant direction, its 'pseudo-film noir’ feel, and a great soundtrack combine to make this one of the best films of recent years. This is a gangster film that can make you cry, but don’t bother watching if you’re just looking for a traditional gangster shoot-‘em-up because you’ll be disappointed – this story of relationships runs much deeper than that.