Tom Hanks Project – “Road to Perdition” Review

8 Mar

roadtoposterWe finally got through this one. We lost Caitlin at “Tom plays a hitman…” She brought out the eye mask and we settled in for a movie we actually enjoyed, despite it being another one I had to narrate large chunks of*. It’s a great story that kept us engaged and Hanks was great as always, bringing humanity to an assassin to the point that we had no qualms about rooting for him**. It’s a beautifully shot movie, earning a best cinematography Oscar and a best supporting actor nomination for Paul Newman in addition to three other sound and art nominations. The movie works, even if it feels predictable throughout.

*Honestly, this wasn’t TOO much of a necessity because I was pretty much guessing what was going to happen the whole way through. Also I read the MPAA ratings so I knew what all the gore/bloody bits would be.

**This is true. I honestly didn’t even think of NOT rooting for Hanks until Zack wrote that sentence. I would say this makes the real-life Hanks a dangerous fellow, because he could probably start murdering people and we’d still make excuses for him. Then again, he just starred in a Carly Rae Jepsen music video, so I’m not wringing my hands. And he even makes the video awesome! road1The movie starts with Tom Hanks taking his two sons and wife to the wake of a business associate (fellow mobster.) Hanks tells his kids to not play dice, since it’s a wake and all. Paul Newman, the head of the mob family and Hanks’ surrogate father, immediately brings the kids to the basement to play dice. Hanks’ older son starts putting together that his dad does some shady business and sneaks into the backseat of Hanks’ car as he goes on a “mission.” It was supposed to be just a talk, but Paul Newman’s son played by Daniel Craig decides to kill the guy and then Hanks has to tommy gun two guys to death and Hanks’ son sees everything. Craig is worried the kid will talk, so he kills Hanks’ wife and other son and the two are forced to go on the run*.  

*I will argue this point. Craig is not at all worried about Sullivan Jr. — he is 100% jealous of Mike Sullivan Sr. Because it seems that Big Mobster Newman favors Mike to his own son, Craig wants Mike gone. G-O-N-E. Craig is a wimpy (albeit murderous) little asshole.


Hanks has two missions from here on out. He wants revenge on the man who killed his wife and son and he wants to protect his other son from the life he made for him. While watching, we had a feeling that he’d get his revenge, but probably die trying to save his son. With a complicated plan that involves robbing a bank and avoiding a very odd, creepy Jude Law character, they bond as the kid works as his getaway driver and lookout. It’s sweet, for a father-son assassin/bank robber story. We end the movie with almost everyone dead and Caitlin covering her eyes more than we laughed combined. Still, we enjoyed it. 

Laugh Out Loud: Zack: 8 Caitlin: 6 There’s a couple funny aspects here and there. One of Hanks’ kids plays dead after getting hit with a snowball and learns the phrase “It’s all so fuckin’ hysterical” from a mobster and starts repeating it all the time. And Hanks’ older son’s struggles with driving a manual are humorous, but yeah, it’s a very dark movie. I honestly couldn’t even tell you what I laughed at, outside of what Zack outlined here. I will say that Mendes does a good job of breaking up the awfulness with just enough light-hearted moments, but still.

Comedy: N/A

Eye Cover: Caitlin: 15 We had already watched What We Do in the Shadows this past weekend, so it was basically one of the bloodiest weekends I’ve ever had, cinematically speaking. I semi-spoiled the movie for myself by looking up all the bloody scenes on IMDB, but I figured it was the only way I was going to make it through. Plus I knew the ending anyway.

Cry: Both Zero: You’d think seeing Hanks’ family murdered or seeing Hanks killed right after we think he might be free of the madness would tug at the heartstrings, but it’s not really built to make you cry. You kind of see it all coming and never feel that close to anyone. I could foresee someone crying who is seeing this for the first time, in a theater, without spoiling it for themselves by looking up the bloody scenes first. I was sad, but definitely not even close to tears at the end.

Romantic Interest: Zack: 2/10 Caitlin: 3/10 This was a big failing of the movie. We see so little interaction between Hanks and his wife that we really don’t care when she’s murdered. She’s loyal. She tells the kids he “puts food on the table” when they pry into his business, but we don’t see a single conversation between them. There’s just nothing for us to go off of. The only conversation between Hanks and his wife is a brief one when Hanks reveals that his older son has seen him murder a guy. His wife seems to know what’s up. That’s it. For this to be the inciting incident that drives the entire rest of the film — the wife and younger son’s murders — it’s just not enough. I think Mendes was banking on the fact that we’d just understand, oh, it’s his wife and kid! Of course he’s dead inside now and only wants revenge! But really, the best relationship is between Sullivan and his older son, and since that’s the case, you just want to shake Sullivan Sr. and go, “STOP IT! RUN AWAY WITH YOUR KID!!!”tomroad

Hanks: Zack: 9.1 Caitlin: 9.0 Even though he’s playing a hit man who kills any and everyone at the drop of a hat, it was easy to just accept and root for him, because Hanks. It’s a tough role, because he’s a quiet guy who seems to be forever in debt to Paul Newman, living a life of servitude to the mob, carrying out the dirty work with no chance at escape. We feel his dedication to his family, even if he can’t protect them. He brings a humanity to the role, even if his character doesn’t have all that much personality. I totally agree that Hanks gives Sullivan humanity. The problem is, I really have trouble with him being a hit man. A revenge murderer? Sure. But just a hit man? I just can’t. I love the subtle emotional play here and I think subtle work is sometimes the hardest work. I think Hanks did a really good job, but I can’t go above a 9.0 because I just don’t buy the story that we’re supposed to accept as the precursor to this particular story.

Movie: Zack: 8.8 Caitlin: 8.6 It’s a solid B+. It’s well made, well acted and even if it’s predictable and struggled to make us really care about the characters, it’s a solid movie. I’d borderline recommend it and doubt we ever watch it again. I mean, I know Caitlin won’t and I would be surprised if I’m ever in the mood. Still, glad we finally saw it and can move on to more Hanks. This is a fine film. It’s fine. It has great actors, it’s mostly engaging, the storyline is interesting. It’s just very predictable, and I’m not at all surprised to find out Sullivan Jr., who had to carry a lot of weight in the film, is now playing a Teen Wolf. Cute kid, but not the most convincing child actor I’ve ever seen.


One Response to “Tom Hanks Project – “Road to Perdition” Review”


  1. Introduction to The Tom Hanks Project | rockloveaustin - July 25, 2015

    […] Road to Perdition – 2002 Review […]

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