Saturday, October 25, 2008

Road to Perdition

A disaster from the same family of "The Godfather" movies. Relation: third cousin, twice removed. This film actually has a little tiny bit of promise, especially with one of Paul Newman's sleeper performances (which garnered his ninth Academy Award nomination), but he's not the lead. He doesn't appear for more than 10 minutes. In those ten- minutes, he actually supplies all of the film's good moments, as 1930's crime boss John Rooney, who is a pretty shady character. Less shady, though, than his scheming loose cannon of a son Connor (Daniel Craig) and the mass murderer who is his hit man in power, Michael Sullivan, played quite flatly by two-time Academy Award winning actor Tom Hanks, in such a way that it really shows that when Hanks is off, he is really, really off. He's one of the film's low points, and the main supplier of the tasteless violence that comes packaged in with it. So there you have it: Rooney is like Vito Corleone, Sullivan is vaguely resembling Tom, and Connor is like Sonny. All three of the characters are of course much, much, much less interesting and captivating than their dopplegangers of the cinematic masterpiece. Newman, though, can at times be very good, but the film skips over him, as director Sam Mendes (who won an Oscar for "American Beauty" movies whose career since then not been quite as awarding) thinks that Hanks' story is a lot more interesting. That story is of the running man Sullivan, running because of the fact that his older son Michael Sullivan, Jr. (Tyler Hoechlin of "7th Heaven") witnessed one of the corrupt murders committed by his father and Connor and the rest of the hit men employed by Rooney, and the fact that Connor has gunned down his other son Peter (Liam Aiken) and his wife Annie (Jennifer Jason Leigh). So he and his living son go on the road to Chicago and rob banks and cross paths with creepy dead body photographer Harlen MacGuire (Jude Law), yet another man sent out to track down Sullivan. So this plays out with more violence and terrible dialogue and heart-to-hearts and other assorted style-over-substance baloney. I can compliment this film at least on the style, as the sets are done very well, and it looks very luscious. So, towards the end, Sullivan commits more tasteless murders and just when you think he's safe... The film is really not well done at all, shakily put together, badly scoped and a misfire in terms of a surefire plot. Newman, as I said earlier, is very strong, but not good enough to beat the likes of Christopher Walken ("Catch Me If You Can," a much better Hanks picture), Ed Harris ("The Hours"), and the winning actor Chris Cooper ("Adaptation," a far superior movie in many, many ways). Craig is also good, but maybe not worthy of that much praise. Hanks and Hoechlin, though, really can't carry the movie, and they are unfortunately put in position to, instead of Newman and Craig, much better candidates. But the film's biggest whole is a lack of purpose: why is this happening? What is happening? I don't really get the point of this. To sum the film up: style, style, style over substance, screenplay, and satisfactory filmmaking. C

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