18 Road to Perdition

4 Jun

When I first saw this movie in the summer of 2002, in my 17 year old mind, I imagined this movie being a throwback to the Humphrey Bogart gangster flicks of old. I fully expected Tom Hanks to talk out of the side of his mouth, “Meh! Look here ya see!” and make crass one liners while plugging his former mob buddies withlead from his tommy gun. That was before I really knew Sam Mendes (I think I thought the film was directed by Robert Zemeckis) or how much of a class act Paul Newman was.  I also had only seen the poster of the movie before I saw the movie, so that really didn’t help my preconceptions. 

In reality, not 17-year-old Chris fantasy land, is the story of a mob hitman, Michael Sullivan, played brilliantly by Tom Hanks who works for John Rooney, played by Paul Newman who picked a great role for his big screen swansong (I don’t count voice acting in Cars!). Michael’s son, sees his Dad performing a hit with John Rooney’s son (Daniel Craig) and gets caught. Believing that his operation could be compromised, John Rooney begrudgingly calls a hit on Michael and his family. Michael figures it out, but not in time to save his wife and other son. Michael ends up going on the run with the son that saw the hit while simultaneously fending off Rooney’s goons and a ruthless, capped-tooth hitman played by Jude Law. So while even the description sounded like something close to what I imagined in my head, the film was really about redemption and the love a father has for his son.

Like most of the films on my list, the cinematography is brilliant. The scenes where Michael and his son are driving in the country are the best, using the depth of the camera to make the country roads seem endless, much like how their struggle seems. The strong performances hold this film high, from Paul Newman’s quiet-but-powerful mob boss, to Jude Law’s creepy performance, almost all the main characters played the role of a lifetime. This was also Daniel Craig’s breakout role. He has come a long way from being a whiny mob-boss’ son to being James Bond. It is kind of fun to watch him evolve into James Bond through some of his action movies. If you have seen Layer Cake you can see how he was perfect for the role of a new James Bond.

While there is still a part of me that wants to see film noir come back and see someone as cool and collected as Humphrey Bogart don a trenchcoat and fidora while smoking a cigarette in the rain (how do they do that?) and spraying bullets from a tommy gun into nameless overweight mob goons, I will take this movie over that any day.

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One Response to “18 Road to Perdition”

  1. Julie June 4, 2010 at 1:03 pm #

    Great movie. Your description and rehashing of the plot to explain why it’s in your top ten makes me just want to pull that movie out and watch it again! I have such respect for directors that make amazing films, the ones that you just sit back and say, “Damn, that was good!” I don’t know how they work their film making magic! I can’t wait to continue reading down your list.

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