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Movie Review: Road to Perdition

Story: I'll get right to the point. I really liked this film. Director Sam Mendes accomplishes an incredible follow up film to his Oscar winning American Beauty.

Where to start? The Road to Perdition refers to two things - Perdition, is a fancy, schmancy word for hell and it also refers to a town in Kansas, where two of our characters are headed. The film is based on the graphic novel (that is a fancy, schmancy name for a long comic book, printed on glossy paper stock and sold in book stores) by Max Allan Collins and Richard Piers Rayner and adapted to the screen by David Self (Thirteen Days).

The story is simple but the execution (no pun intended) is brilliant. It involves the Irish mob arm of the Al Capone organization. (Don't forget...I like 'all things Irish').

Our protagonist, Mike Sullivan is a long time member of the Rooney organization. He follows orders, is paid well, is a family man and is loyal. He just happens to be a murderer. Cut to the chase (no pun intended again), some bad stuff happens and Mike and his 12 year old son are on the road. The film takes place during a six week period of time in the winter of 1931. Mendes sets a perfect visual landscape and you actually believe it really is 1931. Oscar winning cinematographer Conrad L. Hall once again dazzles us with scene after scene of visual eye-appealing scenes.

The film is about fathers and sons, loyalty, betrayal, revenge and honor. There is an economy of dialogue, on-screen lyricism and poetry, incredible acting and great direction. In the hands of a lesser director this could have been a really shmaltzy film. Take yourself to your local cineplex and enjoy the road to good entertainment.

Acting: What can I say? Bravo, bravo and then bravo. Everyone was understated, believable and strong. I would imagine that it is harder to under-act than overact. Director Mendes makes the most of his all star cast and they shine. Kudos to Tom Hanks, who constantly amazes me at his range, Paul Newman, who can never do wrong in my eyes, Jude Law (a new personal favorite - see below), Stanley Tucci, Daniel Craig and young Tyler Hoechlin, who probably will ever get so many life lessons from his co-actors again.

Critters: One beautiful golden retriever.

Food: There were a few critical eating scenes but I can't remember what they ate.

Visual Art: Most of the scenes were too dark to see any of the wall hangings. But the incredible cinematography filled one's eyes with beauty throughout.

Blatant Product Placement: Doeskin tissues (do they make them anymore)?

Soundtrack: Lovely, moody and very Irish.

Opening Titles: Tasteful - just like the rest of the film.

Theater Audience: It was an early Saturday show. Not a big crowd but I think this film will do very well.

Squirm Scale: 0 - There is violence, but most of it is off camera. The audience is left to imagine the sight of the violence with only the sounds or story to drive you there. The squirm factor emanates from one's own mind...not the screen.

Predictability Level: High...but I did not care. This is not a plot driven film.

Tissue Usage: I did not use a tissue but my movie buddy did need one.

Oscar Worthy: Oh yeah! I expect there will be several nods for this fine film and its cast.

Nit Picking: There were a few interior scenes that brought to mind several of the shots in American Beauty. I guess it is not appropriation (stealing) if you take something from your own previous body of work but it still bothered me a bit. (Keep in mind...the name of this category is - nitpicking.)

Big Screen or Rental: Big Screen. And since everyone knows all of the great Tom Hanks and Paul Newman films to rent I am suggesting you get to know Jude Law and his body of work. He is going to be with us a long time and he gets better with each role. He could have easily chosen the pretty boy, love interest type of career but opted for more interesting parts. We are all the luckier for his boldness. He is on the very short list of Lobo favorites. How about these Jude Law goodies: Enemy at the Gate, A.I.: Artificial Intelligence, Talented Mr. Ripley, Wilde, Gattaca and Midnight in the Garden of Good And Evil.

Length: A perfect two hours. Director Sam Mendes even knows to get the length of the film right!