Review: Road to Perdition (2002)

road to perdition poster

“There are many stories about Michael Sullivan. Some say he was a decent man. Some say there was no good in him at all.”
– Michael Sullivan Jr 

Irish mob boss John Rooney (Paul Newman) has many people that work for him. One of those people is the exceptionally good enforcer Michael Sullivan (Tom Hanks). The two have an incredibly close relationship seeing as Rooney pretty much raised Sullivan as his own son. Connor (Daniel Craig) is Rooney’s son, but has always somewhat resented Sullivan for having his father’s love and respect more than he. Rooney requests that Sullivan and Conner pay Finn McGovern (Ciarán Hinds) a visit about money that is being stolen and going missing. McGovern just buried his brother, and is unhappy about it. Sullivan’s son, Michael Sullivan Jr (Tyler Hoechlin) follows his father to the meeting place to see what it is that his father does for a living. What he sees scares him – Connor loses his temper and he and Sullivan gun down McGovern and his men. Sullivan discovers Michael at the scene, but there is no way that he will eliminate his own child.

road to perdition rooneys and sullivan

“A man of honour always pays his debts… and keeps his word.” – John Rooney

Rooney is deeply angry with his son, and Connor bears the brunt of it. Sullivan is making sure that Michael stays quiet about what he saw, interacting with his son on a more frequent level than ever before – he has not really been the family man. Connor, however, is sure he can “fix” things between himself and his father, but will not have Michael a part of what went down. Instead, he arranges to have Michael killed, and when he visits the house he kills Sullivan’s wife, Annie (Jennifer Jason Leigh), and youngest son Peter (Liam Aiken), mistaking him for Michael. Sullivan is crushed to find his family, but takes Michael and flees Rock Island, Illinois, to speak with Al Capone. He needs work and he needs to know where Rooney has hidden Connor.

road to perdition

“Natural law. Sons are put on this earth to trouble their fathers.” – John Rooney

Father and son trek across the country, spending more time together than ever before. Sullivan meets with Frank Nitti (Stanley Tucci), Capone’s associate, who turns him down for both work as well as assisting Sullivan exact his revenge against Connor. Rooney learns of the meeting, and is forced to employ assassin Harlen Maguire (Jude Law) to eliminate Sullivan. Sullivan, however, has other plans. On the run from the assassin, Sullivan starts to rob banks that are known to contain Capone’s laundered money. Michael is helping his father, and together they rob the mob of plenty of money. Sullivan wants to hit them where it hurts, and he needs someone to tell him where to find Connor so that he can bring about order to his life. Sullivan comes across some ledgers when holding up Alexander Rance (Dylan Baker), Rooney’s accountant.

road to perdition street

“Just one last thing, and then it’s done.” – Michael Sullivan

Michael and Sullivan continue to rob banks, but the ledgers that Sullivan has acquired tell him a hell of a lot more about what is going on with Connor and Rooney and McGovern. However, with his son in hand, they need to get to a safe place. His sister-in-law’s place is not safe, seeing as Maguire is watching it and sure to know that it will be the place that Sullivan seeks cover. Will Sullivan be able to get Connor and punish him for robbing him of his family? Will Sullivan and Rooney still have ties if Sullivan exterminates Rooney’s biological son? Will Maguire ever get off of Sullivan’s case? Will Michael be able to stay on the run across the country with his father, whom he is only now finally developing a relationship with?

I would score Road to Perdition a 7.5/10. This was a good movie, not too much, not too little of anything. Tom Hanks played his role well, though this was really something a bit different for him in my opinion. This was full-fledged drama with virtually no comedic aspects to it, which is not always his thing. Watching a father and son find themselves after the colossal loss that they suffered is quite sad. Without his mother, Michael Jr doesn’t really know his dad, and vice versa. They knock heads and are so damn similar to each other that building a relationship is no mean feat. They need to get to know each other more and make peace with so much that had, before the tragic loss of family, never been dealt with before. There were a few scenes that made me smile, and a few that were terribly sad. I thought Michael Jr being the getaway driver was hilarious, as well as his desire to be cut in to some of the earnings. The movie had sweet moments, and others that just made you feel things were not right. I liked Maguire’s character that Jude Law played, the assassin that loves his job too much and documents it in excruciating detail. Jude Law himself, however, still doesn’t impress me much. I liked the way that Michael Sullivan Jr told the story of his father, their pain and the antics that they got up to. The film also looked really pretty, which is always nice. Not a bad film and worth checking out I reckon.

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24 thoughts on “Review: Road to Perdition (2002)

  1. cindybruchman says:

    Nice review. I LOVE this film. The cinematography, Paul Newman, Tom Hanks they did a great job. The chemistry and respite at the farm house. The whole Irish culture–it spoke volumes to me. 🙂

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  2. table9mutant says:

    Nice review. : ) Such great performances in this one. And yet another movie with a brilliant Thomas Newman score. His scores always make me like the movie even MORE. : )

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  3. Tom says:

    Good read Zoe! I’ve always wanted to scope this one out myself, no clue what’s prevented me. It seems like a different role for Tommy Tom-Tom Hankers for sure, which is always good because I like seeing how much range he can present. He’s always a good dramatic name but always as the ‘good guy.’ He sounds a little more complex here.

    Good as Hankers is, I need to definitely see this for other actors as well though. Didn’t know Daniel Craiggers was in it either!!

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    • Zoë says:

      Thanks Tom! It was a little more complex than just being the good guy. You need to see it so we can talk hahaha!

      LOL your names are making me laugh here tonight haha! But yes, he was and he was good, too!

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  4. ruth says:

    Hi Zoe!! This is a GREAT film, I’d probably rate it an 8.5 at least. I love the atmospheric quality and the less-is-more approach to the violence where it’s not shown in a graphic way but still very impactful. Fantastic performance all around, esp. Hanks playing against type. The rain shootout scene stands as one of my favorite rain scenes in movies ev-er! 😀

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    • Zoë says:

      Dammit I don’t want to post spoilers.

      **** SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS ****

      Are we talking right at the end with the kid or with Maguire at the beach?

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      • jjames36 says:

        SPOILERS

        The stuff with Maguire, and how lazily Sullivan lets himself get caught. He had been too resourceful and too powerful throughout the flick for me to buy he’s make that sort of simple mistake.

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      • Zoë says:

        SPOILERS

        Yeah he just let himself get caught there in a way that didn’t really gel too well with me. Glad we are together in that one!

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