It often takes my flatmates and I quite a while to decide on a film to watch. The conversation will normally start around dinner or at the pub as we desperately look to fill our evening. Original suggestions are usually ignored, much to the protestation of the film’s advocate, and serious ideas are replaced by mere word association.
Films are stumbled on by chance as someone will blurt out an idea that they never really expected to gain traction. And so it was in the case of Road to Perdition and my desire to watch a serious movie for a change. A side note: when I said ‘serious’, I didn’t mean a boring drama with no talking. I was instead thinking more along the lines of Saving Private Ryan; a film not exactly renowned for its comic scenes.
After the first 15 or so minutes of Road to Perdition, I was beginning to worry that we had chosen the former of these options. A dark colour palette, a host of men in suits, and a worrying amount of sultry Daniel Craig shots was hardly grabbing me in the same way a D-Day beach landing was going to.
Much to my relief, and surprise, things began to pick up however – suitably kicked into life by the murder of Tom Hanks’ family. Although the plot is far from revolutionary – man seeks revenge, man goes on run, man gains revenge – it is well executed with some excellent performances from Tom Hanks and Paul Newman. The addition of Jude Law as a hitman also adds a nice bit of spice to what could easily have become a rather straightforward manhunt.
Furthermore, the growing bond between father and son provides some much needed light to an otherwise rather depressing film that is largely focused on death. The budding relationship is epitomised by the light-hearted bank-robbing montage; an episode expertly highlighting the theme that underpins this film.
It is not perfect however, and some of the plot points seemed a little glossed over. Like why are an elderly couple so readily accepting of a man who had been shot? Why was it so easy for Tom Hanks to kill Daniel Craig? Coupled with a rather limp ending that crawls over the line, and the plot has moments where it seems to want to rush ahead rather than telling the story.
Explaining these flaws is seemingly less favoured than recurring shots of father and son driving across the bland mid-west. There are a lot of these. Like, a lot. After a while they begin to get rather repetitive, especially when contrasted with the beautiful one-shot scene that revolves around the car as they arrive in Chicago.
Thankfully, Road to Perdition is not lacking in action or intrigue, merely a slightly more snip-happy editor as it struggles to hold your attention with a few to many meandering scenes that lack the substance offered by much of the movie.
Image courtesy of Kodi Tanner (flickr)