Forgotten Classics – ‘Road to Perdition’
Road to Perdition
Directed by Sam Mendes
Screenplay by David Self
2002 – US
Anyone who still retains core doubt over Sam Mendes taking a shot at the Bond franchise should feel reassured by the fact that, despite having a undoubted reputation for art-house design and social drama, he’s a director not afraid to mix things up. Beyond 2005’s Jarhead, a war film with no war, is the more significant Road to Perdition, his follow up to the mega-hit American Beauty, and a tour de force in both enthralling action and arresting style.
Everything about Road seems to stand up and defy convention. After all, this is a gangster movie adapted from a graphic novel which somehow seems to imbue the emotional charge of a kitchen-sink drama. It’s an ‘on-the-run’ chase thriller which just happens to be one of the most gorgeously shot motion pictures ever produced, with every frame an aesthetic masterpiece of a gift from the late Conrad L Hall. We have another passed away master, the great Paul Newman, delivering his last great performance…as an unscrupulous mob boss. All-American hero Tom Hanks portrays an anti-villain protagonist, ethically unsound criminal enforcer Mike Sullivan. Jude Law is Maguire, a balding rat-like assassin as likely to turn stomachs as pull the trigger on his quarry. And James Bond himself, Daniel Craig, trades in heroic grittiness for petty and psychotic neurosis as a deranged and repugnant man child. Nothing works the way it’s supposed to.