Film Review: The Road to Perdition
The New York Irish get a Mob makeover...
Sam Mendes follow up to American Beauty finds us dealing with the familiar theme of familial relationships, in the unfamiliar surrounds of Irish gangsters. Tom Hanks is Michael Sullivan an assassin whose son witnesses his dirty work. The patriarch of the mob John Rooney (Paul Newman) turns against the family causing the boy and his father to go on the run.
Beautifully filmed and well constructed, this film has a number of flaws, summed up in one word: credibility. Hanks for me, is too nice a guy for an assassin. The double Oscar winner lacks the presence or menace of a Cagney, De Niro, or Pacino. Although, filmed in a style reminiscent of the Godfather films, it wholly lacks the authenticity of the great mob films. The gangsters are Irish people acting like Italians, while the violence is excessive, and unbelievable.
Jude Law plays a deliciously evil photographing hitman character, who appears to be in the wrong film. Mendes (the former theatre director) films indoor scenes in a similar fashion to the theatre. This appears flat and wooden, on the big screen. Do we go to the cinema to see theatre? In the end we have complex emotional scenes played to a score of cartoon violence. The emotional sconces work, but are undermined by the violence. Less is usually more, in this type of film.
Newman, Hanks, and Law are eminently watchable - as an American road movie your time in the cinema won't be entirely wasted. However if you want complex family relationships and the mob, don't leave home. Catch The Sopranos.