Directed by Sam Mendes and based on the graphic novel by Max Allan Collins and Richard Piers Rayner, the Depression-era crime epic ROAD TO PERDITION stars Tom Hanks as Michael Sullivan, a quiet hit man who is duty bound to Mafia boss John Rooney (Paul Newman). The mobster's close bond with Sullivan, however, leads Rooney's jealous blood son, Connor (Daniel Craig), to orchestrate a tragic series of events that results in Sullivan on the run with his 12-year-old son, Michael Jr. (Tyler Hoechlin). Soon an unscrupulous crime photographer/assassin named Maguire (Jude Law) is sent after Sullivan and his son, and Sullivan must decide on a course of action as young Michael comes to terms with his father's violent way of life.
Meticulously directed by Mendes and brilliantly photographed by Conrad Hall, each scene of ROAD TO PERDITION has the composition of an expertly crafted painting. Making effective use of rain, snow, and shadows, the filmmakers create a cinematic world that's as dark, cold, and unforgiving as many of its inhabitants. But the film also allows for glimpses of emotional warmth, particularly in Sullivan's relationships with his son and Rooney, his surrogate father. In these roles, the respective actors create complex characters that resonate even in their restraint. Hanks is outstanding as a man of action with little time for words, while Hoechlin creates an unsentimental portrait of a confused boy; Newman once again proves why he's a screen legend and, in a strikingly unflattering role, Law makes the most out of his screen time as a creepy, parasitic hit man. Even in its harshest moments, however, Mendes never fails to remind the audience that ROAD TO PERDITION is a film about fathers and sons; and this is what elevates it from an atmospheric gangster movie to a truly astonishing work of art.
Academy Awards Best Cinematography 2002 Conrad L. Hall Director of Photography, Father of Conrad W. Hall