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Road to Perdition

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Movie propaganda

Pray for Michael Sullivan.

Michael Sullivan (Tom Hanks) is a hit-man in the midwest during the depression. When his work crosses into his private life, leading to the death of his beloved wife (Jennifer Jason Leigh) and son, Michael Sullivan Junior (Tyler Hoechlin) and his surviving son, Peter (Liam Aiken), set out on a journey of revenge and self discovery.

Theatrical propaganda posters

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Target demographic movie keyword propaganda

  • Film depression gangster assassin father son crime

Persons of interest

  • Tom Hanks .... Michael Sullivan
  • Tyler Hoechlin .... Michael Sullivan Junior
  • Liam Aiken .... Peter Sullivan
  • Jennifer Jason Leigh .... Annie Sullivan
  • Paul Newman .... John Looney
  • Jude Law .... Maguire
  • Alfred Molina .... Al Capone
  • Daniel Craig .... Connor Looney
  • Stanley Tucci .... Frank Nitti
  • Kevin Chamberlin
  • Dylan Baker
  • Ciarán Hinds
  • Max Allan Collins .... Graphic Novelist
  • Richard Piers Rayner .... Graphic Novelist
  • David Self .... Screenwriter
  • Patrick Marber .... Screenwriter
  • Sam Mendes .... Director

Cinematic intelligence sources

Intelligence analyst

Special Agent Matti

Theatrical report

If the road to Hell is paved with good intentions, with what, then, is paved the road to Perdition? For Michael Sullivan, it's love: the downfall of many a man before him. Many a bigger man, too. The pique, then, is whether or not he will drag his loved ones down with him, nullifying the whole purpose.

As far as hitmen go, Mike isn't. He's a man who does hits, a thug not an assassin. From 9 to 5, and sometimes after hours, he does the standover tactics that every crime organisation needs, with a stern, steady glare that makes you think about the things that you did wrong. Like the way you panic when the police officer catches your eye at a speed trap even though you're not speeding. Primary school teachers can do it, too, but you're too cynical for it to work much by the time you reach high school. At least I was.

Anyway, Tom Hanks beefs up even more than he did for Cast away. He is the archetypal head of the house of a staunch Irish-American Catholic working class family. Emotion is reserved for being drunk, at least the expression thereof is: Mike's love for his family is the bedrock of his existence. Exploiting that is John Looney, archetypal head of the house of a staunch Irish-American Catholic criminal class family. When you pull a man out of the gutter he'll be your friend for life. Whether that was the intention or a fortunate by-product is never revealed, but it's certainly what happened. Mike is the son John didn't have, John the father Mike never had. Everything would be fine if John didn't go and have a flesh and blood son who, like most children of rich parents, turns out to be a spoilt brat. If you can't raise a child with a firm hand you shouldn't have them in the first place. [Try telling that to Little Johnny Howard - Director of Intelligence]

Clichés aside, Daniel Craig plays Connor Rooney with more than just a chip on his shoulder. He makes Brick from Cat on a hot tin roof seem positively angelic. This is the kind of character who, in the new millennium, would be creating genetically enhanced flies so he could hear them scream when he pulls their wings off. Redeeming features: nil. On the other hand there's Michael Sullivan Junior, too much like his father to be adorable but given a completely different start in life, so ultimately redeemable. That he is redeemed is a failure of Hollywood marketing executives and American traditional family values (happy endings sell seats and everyone is inherently good, respectively) rather than any revelation of the human condition. Tyler Hoechlin does the best he can with what he's given but isn't given much with which to do anything. Despite not having read the graphic novel, I reckon that's more to do with giving Tom enough material for an Oscar than anything else.

I am a cynic.

Road to Perdition (a both metaphorical and literal title) is the kind of dramatic film that you'll appreciate but not the sort that you'll love because the wrong questions are left open ("Was the hit on Michael Senior a mistake or a plot?") and the right questions are closed ("What happens to Michael Junior?"). Despite that, it's still worth seeing. Especially if you want to see Jude Law going bald. Eek! Ugliness from an actor? Unheard of!

Media intelligence (DVD)

  • Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1
  • Languages: English, Russian
  • Picture: Widescreen 2.35:1/16:9
  • Special features:
    • Biographies: Cast, Director
    • CD Soundtrack promo
    • Commentary: Sam Mendes (Dolby 2.0)
    • Deleted scenes: 11, with optional commentary
    • Documentaries: HBO Special: The making of Road to Perdition
    • Galleries: Photo (50 stills)
    • Production notes
  • Subtitles: Bulgarian, Croatian, Czech, Dutch, English captions, Estonian, Hebrew, Hungarian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Turkish

Security censorship classification

M (Medium level violence)

Surveillance time

113 minutes (1:53 hours)

Not for public release in Australia before date

Film: 10 October 2002
DVD rental: 5 March 2003
VHS rental: 5 March 2003
DVD retail: 5 March 2003

Cinema surveillance images

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