But just being sumptuously shot isn’t good enough, you need a bit of substance; and that’s where Sam Mendes’ 40s set gangster film falls short.
Admittedly, when you’re in the same genre as films like Goodfellas and the The Godfather, it can be difficult to really stand out, but Road to Perdition is too cold and, dare I say it, boring to be held in the same regard as those masterpieces.
It tells the story of gangster/failed family-man Michael (Tom Hanks) whose gangster family – led by Paul Newman’s John Rooney – turn against him. He is forced to go on the run with his eldest son, impressively played by Tyler Hoechlin, as they are hunted down by Jude Law’s semi-necrophilic hitman.
For such a stellar ensemble cast, much of the acting is surprisingly weak; especially Rooney Jr. played by Daniel Craig, boasting a pants mobster accent. But the two actors with the most screen time – Hanks and Hoechlin – manage to hold it together, and it is their father-son moments that carry the most emotional weight.
At its heart, Road to Perdition is a film about a father being cast out by his adopted family (the gangsters) and finding his true family. That really is a beautiful message, and one that actually comes close to supplying some real heart. It’s just that whenever the plot drifts back into a gangster revenge story, it just grinds to a halt, and apart from the gorgeous visuals, there is absolutely nothing worth investing your time in.
It’s does look good though . . .