the fresh films reviews

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Road to Perdition (2002)

Sam Mendes
Road to Perdition
117 minutes
Sam Mendes
Dean Zanuck
Richard D. Zanuck
David Self

Cast includes:

Michael Sullivan Tom Hanks
John Rooney Paul Newman
Harlen Maguire Jude Law
Annie Sullivan Jennifer Jason Leigh
Connor Rooney Daniel Craig
Michael Sullivan, Jr. Tyler Hoechlin
Alexander Rance Dylan Baker
Frank Nitti Stanley Tucci



Sam Mendes much anticipated follow-up to his wonderful American Beauty is a brooding and humourless tale of mobsters in 1930s Chicago. The film is ambitious and looks great, but lacks the energy, passion and spontaneity of the best films in the genre (The Godfather, Miller's Crossing). That is too bad, because Conrad L. Hall's amazing photography and very fine acting by a fine cast should have been rewarded with more than this puny story can provide. The problem is that the world created here is too confined and the characterizations are too forced. It's as if every single action that a character takes has been planned since the dawn of man. Tom Hanks is impressive (especially in the scenes with his son), but his character's psychology is dangerously close to Charles Bronson's in Death Wish. Jude Law and Jennifer Jason Leigh both have thankless roles - Law with an undefined, strangely motivated character and Leigh with far too little screentime. Perhaps a bit surprisingly, Road to Perdition is at its best when Paul Newman is on screen. Just when you'd think there'd be no more ardour left in the old virtuoso, he delivers a powerhouse performance. He hasn't been this focused in years, and he easily steals the scenes he's in. Unfortunately, his vivacity isn't enough to light up this detached drama.

Copyright 11.1.2005 Fredrik Gunerius Fevang [HAVE YOUR SAY]