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ROAD TO PERDITION (2002, USA) – 9/10

The role of the head of an Irish gangster organization was also the last role in the career of one of the greatest American actors of all time, Paul Newman. Newman’s career lasted more than half a century, and like many like him, he won his only Oscar too late, and that more as some kind of redemption for bypassing a series of great roles for which he was not recognized at the height of his career. The role of John Rooney brought Newman the last of a total of nine acting nominations, and “Road to Perdition” is a great crime drama that confirmed only one of the six nominations, veteran Conrad L. Hall for best photography.

This is the film with which Sam Mendes, after being deservedly awarded an Oscar for the previous “American Beauty”, confirmed that he is a perfect director. A visionary with so much style, a true master and it simply amazes how polished and polished the film is to the smallest detail. This dark gangster crime drama actually works like a real Greek tragedy where the fates of the characters are practically predetermined. It is well known how the lives of most of those involved in organized crime in the 1930s in America ended – either in prison or by violent death. The death sentence will also be signed for the killer of a gangster organization from Illinois, Michael Sullivan (Tom Hanks in perhaps the darkest role of his career), whose son will witness the murders committed by his father and the boss’s son, Connor (Daniel Craig).


The entire story of this great and dark crime drama is told from the perspective of Michael junior, who is also the narrator, and in the worst possible way, he will finally find out what his dad actually does. Although it is clear to him more than to his younger brother that dad does not do any “normal” work, he probably cannot even imagine that dad’s job is to kill people in cold blood for the mafia. And Michael Sr. gave everything he could to the mafia, he was loyal to the old boss all his life, he believed that he was like his second son, but when his real son goes the wrong way, Michael will be the one who will suffer.

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And it will immediately become clear to him what he is up to and he will run away with his son, but it is equally clear to him that you cannot hide from the mafia, but that he must find a solution. It is a film about fathers and sons from multiple perspectives. Of course, in the foreground is the relationship between Michael and his son, whom he is trying to protect from evil, and he will do everything to save him when he could not save his wife and younger son. However, Michael had a father figure in John, who at the same time seems to idealize him, but also fears him and cannot accept that he will cross him so easily. Especially when you know what he did for him in the past. There is also the prodigal son, John’s biological son, namely Connor, a murderer and sadist who did not inherit even an iota of leadership characteristics from his father, and he is envious of his father’s relationship with Michael, which will certainly contribute to his actions.

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In addition to Newman and Hanks, Jude Law is also excellent in the episodic role of a grotesque and sociopathic killer whom the mafia will send after Michael. And visually everything in “Road to Perdition” looks perfect. The scenography and production design are masterful, the depressed America from the beginning of the thirties is excellently portrayed, which is further exhausted by mafia organizations that no one can put an end to and which were at the peak of their power at that time.