Road to Perdition (2002)

117 minutes | Rated R

Sam Mendes, the Academy Award winning director of “American Beauty”, directs a stellar cast in 2002’s “Road to Perdition.” We begin with a young man standing on the shore reflecting upon the winter of 1931 when he spent several months on the road with his father Michael Sullivan.

Tom Hanks stars as the elder Sullivan. His son, also named Michael, is played by a young Tyler Hoechlin, who currently portrays Superman on the CW’s “Supergirl.” Young Michael is seen selling newspapers at the beginning of the film. When dropping off the money for the papers, we see him steal a pack of tobacco. Upon arrival at home, he is greeted with a friendly snowball fight with his younger brother Peter. Not a great student, Michael is having trouble with his math homework. His mother, played by Jennifer Jason Leigh, offers to help with it later. She asks him to fetch his father for dinner. He notices his father place a handgun on the bed.

The Sullivan family then attends a wake at the home of the elder Michael’s employer John Rooney, portrayed by Paul Newman. We also meet John’s son Connor, played by Daniel Craig. The wake is for the brother of Finn McGovern, another of Rooney’s “employees.” It is obvious that Rooney suspects something of Finn as Michael keeps a wary eye on him throughout the wake.

That evening, Peter asks his brother what their father does. Not really sure, Michael stows away in the car before his father leaves for work. The elder Sullivan places a case in the back seat, then drives to a hotel where he picks up Connor. They drive to an old warehouse. Sullivan gets a tommy gun out of the case and the pair enter the warehouse. Young Michael gets out of the car and peeks through a crack in a door. He sees Finn tied to a chair. Connor is questioning him about some missing money. He sees his father’s feet near the door he is watching from. Some men with guns enter through another door. Connor shoots Finn in the head and the elder Sullivan unleashes the tommy gun wiping out the other gunmen. Connor spots something at the door. Michael checks it out and is horrified to find his son.

“Road to Perdition” features an outstanding cast that also includes Jude Law and Stanley Tucci. Fans of gangster movies and any of the actors involved should enjoy this movie. The film is based on a graphic novel written by Max Allan Collins with art by Richard Piers Rayner. It won an Academy Award for outstanding cinematography for Conrad Hall who also worked with Paul Newman on the classic “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.” The film looks awesome and the story holds one’s attention throughout the movie. I’ve not heard many people talk about this film, but, I would highly recommend it to any fan of Tom Hanks or Paul Newman that may have overlooked it.

“Road to Perdition” is rated R for violence and language. It is suitable for older teens and up. I rate it four-and-a-half out of five mysterious suitcases.