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Sam Mendes
Tom Hanks, Tyler Hoechlin, Paul Newman
Writing Credits:
David Self

A mob enforcer's son witnesses a murder, forcing him and his father to take to the road, and his father down a path of redemption and revenge.
Box Office:
$80 million.
Opening Weekend:
$22,079,481 on 1797 screens.
Domestic Gross:
Rated R.

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Spanish Dolby 5.1
French Dolby 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 117 min.
Price: $26.99
Release Date: 10/3/2010

• Audio Commentary with Director Sam Mendes
• Intro from Director Sam Mendes
• “A Cinematic Life” Featurette
• “The Library” Featurette
• “The Making of Road to Perdition Featurette
• Deleted Scenes
• Trailer


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver;
-Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


Road to Perdition [Blu-Ray] (2002)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (October 5, 2020)

It took director Sam Mendes about three years to produce a follow-up to 1999’s American Beauty, his Oscar-winning debut. With Road to Perdition, it seemed like Mendes did would he could to stack the deck in favor of another Oscar.

Between the two of them, stars Tom Hanks and Paul Newman accounted for three Academy Awards – five if you count Newman’s two honorary prizes – and many crewmembers earned their own trophies.

Perdition didn’t repeat the performance of Beauty, but it actually may offer the more deserving film. I liked Beauty but thought other flicks from 1999 seemed stronger. While I don’t know if I’d call Perdition the best 2002 had to offer, it seemed like a solid and well-crafted movie.

Set in the winter of 1931, we meet the family of Michael Sullivan (Hanks). A hitman for local gang boss John Rooney (Newman) – who also acts as his surrogate father - Sullivan keeps his business distant from his wife Annie (Jennifer Jason Leigh) and sons Michael Jr. (Tyler Hoechlin) and Peter (Liam Aiken). However, young Michael develops more of a curiosity about dad’s job.

When the family attends a wake, the plot thickens. Finn McGovern (Ciarán Hinds) clearly blames the Rooney organization for his brother’s death.

When Finn pops off at the wake, Sullivan and Rooney’s semi-screw-up son Connor (Daniel Craig) go to talk with Finn. Michael Jr. stows away for the ride, and when matters turn unpleasant, he witnesses these actions.

This makes the Sullivans a marked family, as the Rooneys can’t afford to have an eyewitness on the streets. I don’t want to spill all of the plot surprises, but much of the film follows Sullivan’s attempts to fix things. In time, Rooney hires crime photographer/hitman Maguire (Jude Law) to go after the Sullivans.

For the first act of Perdition, I found it difficult to get into the film. While those portions seemed well crafted, they simply didn’t do much to involve me in the story. I thought the flick came across as watchable and professional but little more than that.

However, as the plot thickened, the movie slowly started to draw me into it. Perdition doesn’t seem like a slam-bang package that immediately makes an impact on the viewer. Quite a lot happens in the first act, but it still took me a while to warm up to the piece.

Once that occurred, I found Perdition to offer an involving and ultimately moving flick. A lot of the credit goes to the visual style executed by Mendes and director of photography Conrad L. Hall.

Simply put, you’ll be hard-pressed to find many movies that look better than Perdition. However, the visuals don’t exist in a vacuum, as the flick doesn’t provide style without substance.

Instead, the look of the flick clearly serves the story. The moody cinematography creates a sensibility that works extremely well for the story it tells. In particular, one shoot-out filmed in the rain seems especially memorable.

As one might expect from such a stellar cast, Perdition also features solid acting, and Hanks plays against type to a degree. He doesn’t portray a genuine bad-guy, as Sullivan seems a bit chilly but not genuinely nasty despite his career choice.

Some have seen the role as a great departure for Hanks, but I don’t agree. He often plays low-key and fairly stoical personalities like Sullivan, but the difference stems from the fact the others don’t kill for a living.

Remove that from the equation and Sullivan doesn’t seem all that different from other Hanks roles. Nonetheless, I appreciate that the actor takes on a potentially unpleasant character. Hanks doesn’t try to make Sullivan particularly warm or likable, choices that help serve the part.

Though Newman earned an Oscar nomination for his work as Rooney, I think the best acting comes from Law. His work as Maguire doesn’t require much dimensionality, but he offers a stark portrayal of a mole-like little man. As he dispenses with his usual charm and savoir-faire, Law makes Maguire much more memorable than the character probably should warrant based on screentime.

A dark and involving drama, Road to Perdition seemed a little slow at its start. However, it eventually turned into something fairly special. Put this flick down as one of 2002’s better releases.

The Disc Grades: Picture C+ / Audio B / Bonus B+

Road to Perdition appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This became a blah transfer.

Sharpness usually appeared fine. Wide shots came across as a little soft, but those examples didn’t create big issues, as most of the movie displayed adequate to good delineation.

While I noticed no concerns related to jagged edges or moiré effects, Perdition suffered from some fairly prominent edge haloes at times, and these could give the movie a moderately fuzzy look. Occasional speckles materialized as well. Though these didn’t dominate, I saw more than a handful of them.

In terms of palette, the film went with a low-key mix of sepia and teal. The colors reflected the mood of the piece, so for what we saw, the hues came across as appropriate.

Black levels appeared fairly deep and dense, while shadows displayed appropriate clarity. Though much of the movie looked fine, the softness, edge haloes and specks made it a “C+” image.

While the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Road to Perdition demonstrated no substantial flaws, it also did little to make it stand out from the crowd. That shouldn’t come as a complaint, however, as the movie’s somewhat restricted soundfield made sense for the story.

The audio remained oriented toward the forward channels. In that domain, music showed good stereo imaging, and effects presented accurate placement.

Those elements also blended together well, and information panned smoothly across the speakers. Surround usage mainly offered atmospheric element, and those seemed appropriately involving.

For example, the shots at the brothel brought the spectrum vividly to life, and gunfire sequences provided a solid sense of environment. The soundfield didn’t seem terribly accurate, but it remained appropriate for the story.

Audio quality appeared positive. Speech seemed natural and concise, and the lines presented no issues related to edginess or intelligibility.

Music was bright and vivid, and the score demonstrated good range and punch. Effects sounded clean and accurate, and they also featured very solid bass response.

The low-end elements provided fine depth and never appeared loose or boomy. Ultimately, Road to Perdition seemed like a good soundtrack, but not one that excelled.

How did the Blu-ray compare to the original DVD? The lossless audio showed more range, and the visuals became better defined and smoother.

However, the latter improvements resulted solely from the superior capabilities of Blu-ray vs. DVD. I suspect the BD used the old transfer for the DVD, as it seemed similar to it in many ways.

As we head to extras, we start with an audio commentary from director Sam Mendes, who offers a running, screen-specific piece. I thought his track for American Beauty seemed above average, but it didn’t particularly enthrall me.

However, Mendes’ discussion of Perdition provides a substantially stronger affair. The director covers many of the expected nuts and bolts issues as he talks about working with the cast, dealing with challenges of the period setting, visual design and other topics.

While those notes seem good, Mendes’ remarks about the story, the characters, and his intentions as a director appear especially terrific. He really gets into the symbolism and the different choices he made.

These add a lot to our understanding of the flick and our appreciation of it. Overall, Mendes provides a very strong commentary.

11 Deleted Scenes span a total of 22 minutes, 16 seconds. Some of the clips extend existing shots, and they tend to add a little character information.

We also see Anthony LaPaglia as Al Capone in an entertaining but insubstantial snippet. None of the deleted scenes come across as significant, but some of them provide intriguing material.

The deleted scenes can be viewed with or without commentary from Mendes. Unfortunately, this chat doesn’t seem as useful as the one that accompanies the film itself.

Actually, Mendes offers some decent notes about the scenes and helps relate how they would have accompanied the story. Unfortunately, he doesn’t always tell us why he omitted the segments. Mendes’ statements appear generally informative but not terrific.

After this we get an HBO special called Making of Road to Perdition. The 25-minute, four-second program brings notes from director Sam Mendes, actors Tom Hanks, Jude Law, Paul Newman, Tyler Hoechlin, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Daniel Craig, and Stanley Tucci, director of photography Conrad L. Hall, producers Dean and Richard Zanuck, production designer Dennis Gassner, executive producer Joan Bradshaw, costume designer Albert Wolsky, and special effects coordinator Allen L. Hall.

Although “Making” suffers from the usual glossiness found in this sort of piece, it still includes some good moments. Yes, we hear lots of praise for the different participants and learn what a great film Perdition is, and we also get many simple plot points.

However, some decent information about visual design and other elements crops up, and the piece includes many nice behind the scenes images. The latter present the best elements and help make “Making” a decent little program.

New to the Blu-ray, a Sam Mendes Feature Introduction goes for one-minute, 18-seconds. He praises the BD format and tells us how great the movie now looks.

Also exclusive to the Blu-ray, A Cinematic Life spans 26 minutes, 39 seconds and presents notes from Mendes, filmmakers Glenn Gordon Caron and William Goldman, and cinematographers Haskell Wexler, Janusz Kaminiski, Vilmos Zsigmund, Roger Deakins, Owen Roizman, Philippe Rouselot, and Conrad W. Hall.

“Life” looks at Hall’s father, Road DP Conrad L. Hall. The elder Hall died about half a year after the film’s release, and “Life” offers an affectionate appraisal of his work. Obviously it tends to praise Conrad L., but it also offers good insights about his photography, so it becomes more worthwhile than the usual retrospective.

In addition to the film’s trailer, we finish with The Library, “a further exploration of the world of Road to Perdition. It offers an interactive gallery that mixes stills, texts and audio comments.

These split into four domains: "Crime Scene Portraits," "Real World Organized Crime," "News Stories of the Day," and "Inspiration & Adaptation". We find text and notes from Mendes, graphic novel writer Max Allan Collins and graphic novel artist Richard Piers Raynor.

These tend to look at historical elements and their adaptation into the fictional world of Road. I’m not wild about the semi-clunky format – I’d prefer a more standard featurette – but we get good information here.

Directors don’t usually follow up Best Picture-winning efforts with something superior, but Sam Mendes did so with Road to Perdition. A marvelously photographed and very well executed drama, the film progresses a little slowly but works quite nicely in the end. The Blu-ray brings mediocre visuals along with fairly good audio and a nice array of bonus materials. The picture quality could use an upgrade, but I like the film.l

To rate this film, visit the original review of ROAD TO PERDITION