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Movie Review

Road to Perdition also known as “Camino a la perdición,” “Caminho para Perdição,” “Les sentiers de la perdition,” “A kárhozat útja”

MPAA Rating: R for violence and language.

Reviewed by: Ryan Izay

Extremely Offensive
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Crime Thriller Drama
1 hr. 57 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
July 12, 2002 (wide)
Copyright, DreamWorks SKG, 20th Century Fox click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, DreamWorks SKG, 20th Century Fox Copyright, DreamWorks SKG, 20th Century Fox Copyright, DreamWorks SKG, 20th Century Fox Copyright, DreamWorks SKG, 20th Century Fox Copyright, DreamWorks SKG, 20th Century Fox Copyright, DreamWorks SKG, 20th Century Fox
Relevant Issues
Copyright, DreamWorks SKG, 20th Century Fox


murder of a child


spoiled son

bank robbery




Catholic church


Great Depression

orphans in the Bible

scarred face



Featuring: Tom HanksMichael Sullivan
Tyler Hoechlin … Michael Sullivan Jr.
Rob Maxey … Drugstore Owner
Paul Newman … John Rooney
Liam Aiken … Peter Sullivan
Jude LawHarlen Maguire
Jennifer Jason Leigh … Annie Sullivan
Daniel CraigConnor Rooney
Ciarán HindsFinn McGovern
more »
Director: Sam Mendes
Producer: DreamWorks SKG
Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
The Zanuck Company
more »
Distributor: DreamWorks SKG, 20th Century Fox

“Every father is a hero to his son.”

Copyrighted, DreamWorks SKG, 20th Century Fox

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, in the middle of all the summer blockbusters, a gem is released. “Road to Perdition” is a dark and incredible work of art. From start to finish this film is meticulously constructed in a way that is truly amazing to watch.

“Perdition” is the story of a hitman Michael Sullivan, who is also a family man. When his family and job collide leaving his wife and one of his sons dead, he takes his other son on the road in attempt to avenge their death. The only problem is that the man who killed them is also the son of the boss, so naturally there are many people out to get Sullivan. One man in particular is hired to kill Sullivan. His name is Maguire and he is slightly insane, a performance by Jude Law that you would not expect to see.

Sam Mendes directs this film in the same incredible way that grabbed us with “American Beauty”. And of course it does not hurt that Conrad Hall Sr. came along to do this film as well, for as breathtaking as the performances are the way this film was shot. Cinematography does not get any better than this film.

Tom Hanks is great in the subtle role of Sullivan. He finds a way to stay a hardened killer the whole film and still let us know what he is feeling with his eyes. Paul Newman is the boss and he still proves himself to be one of the most talented actors still working.

Although this may possibly be the best film in years, don’t rush out to see it unless you are sure that you can handle it. “Perdition” is filled with violence and men who know that they are on their way to hell. Many people are shot very brutally and the violence can be tough to watch. There is also a lot of language.

Bottom line is that this is not a film for the immature. If you truly do appreciate film as a work of art and not just entertainment, then chances are you will love this film. Otherwise, it might be safer to just see the blockbusters instead.

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive—I’ve read the reviews on this page and I do not desire to rehash what has been said regarding the plot and contents. Rather I viewed this movie as a look inside the soul of a man who was living a lifestyle that was taking him down the “final path to spiritual ruin,” which is the definition of “perdition”. This is a story of a man who lives a lifestyle of sin. “Murder for Hire” is his profession. He owes his lifestyle to serving an organization whose only means of income involves destroying the lives of others.

This is a story of a family man trying to raise a family that will live a “normal” life. But reality kicks in, and his sin found him out. When his oldest son witnesses the work that he does, the thin film facade between what his life is really about and what he would like his family to think his life is about, is torn. Still believing that there is reason to believe everything will turn out okay, he tries to continue as normal. more »
My Ratings: [Extremely Offensive / 5]
—Jose, age 42
Positive—Road to Perdition is extremely violent, dark, sinister, filled with characters that are so corrupt and consumed by such bile that I hope I never meet anyone like them. That said, the movie makes no attempt to sugar coat, glaze over or glorify their evil. The film makers call it what it is, evil. Mr Rooney (Paul Newman) tells Mike Sullivan (Tom Hanks), “This is the life we’ve chosen, and there is only one guarantee. None of us will see Heaven.”

Sullivan is a reluctant villain. You get the feeling that he would have been a good man, an honorable man, had he not been raised by a gangster surrogate father. And the one thing he desires above all is that his surviving son will not follow in his footsteps. And therein lies the one glimmer of hope in Sullivan’s wretched existence.

The movie is superbly acted, directed and filmed. I’ve seen none to rival it this year. See it if you have a strong stomach. DO NOT allow children or immature teens to watch this film. They may fixate on the violence and completely miss the message.
My Ratings: [Extremely Offensive / 5]
—Oscar Schneegans, age 26
Positive—Why all the negative reviews? I thought this was a great movie with a great message… its about a father who wants his son to live a better life than he did. I can’t see anything wrong with a movie that promotes this message. Yes, it also is a film about revenge, but this man DID lose his family because of a few sicko’s, and these men deserved what they got when you really think of it.

Yes, Tom Hanks’ character may have gone about it the wrong way, but that is really not the point. Yes, it was violent. Those walking into the R rated film should have expected that.

Why this film is getting all the negative reviews on this site is a mystery. The reviewer was right: This is not a film for the immature. For everyone else, this is a must-see that should not be missed! The best film of the year so far!
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 5]
—Adam, age 20
Positive—I felt that this was a very good movie that portrayed the time period in which the mafia was at its highest. You probably will not like this film if you didn’t like The Godfather. It tends to have slow parts in it, but a very good movie indeed. It is very bloody and gory, but hey you should expect that from a movie about a hitman in the mafia!

There was a bit too much cursing for me, but at least there wasn’t any nudity or sexual parts in it. I think the director did a good job of showing what life was like for the mafia and their families.
My Ratings: [4]
—Emily, age 24
Positive—This is one of the years best films, without a doubt. The trio of Director Sam Mendes, Cinematographer, and Composer Thomas Newman, all of whom worked on “American Beauty” really helps the film too. Mendes is a fantastic director. The cinematography is dark and atmospheric, with many fascinating shots. The music is eerie and quirky at the same time.

Also, the acting is superb. I thought Tom Hanks did a wonderful job in this role. He wasn’t out of place, but right on target. As well, Paul Newman and Jude Law are fantastic. There are a great many powerful themes presented by this film. Some of them, quite ironic.

For instance, when Paul Newman says “There is only one guarantee. None of us will see Heaven.” it is heartbreaking, because he says this in the basement of a church. His character is caught in a world of corruption, and, because he’s in so deep, there is no chance at redemption, that any step toward the light will result in two steps in the opposite direction…
My Ratings: [Average / 5]
—Jason Eaken, age 18
Positive—Hanks has done it again. A great movie with great acting and plot. If Jesus walked the Earth today He would say, “Those who live by the gun, die by the gun.”
My Ratings: [Average / 5]
—John T, age 37
Neutral—My real take is somewhere between neutral to positive. My first reaction to this film is that it was a good one with the taint of Hollywood on it. The violence in the film is over done. Years ago much of the gore would have never been shown, the imagination would fill in the gaps.

Today however everything is shown in great detail. I don’t consider the violence to a mature adult audience to be a reason to call this a bad movie. There were times God told his people to take what was theirs, God told Joshua to kill all the Canaanites that he found when the Israelits entered the land that he had promised them.

Later God blessed Israel and Judea as she fought wars with God’s blessing and help, all of these examples were instances where God approved of violence. Scripture declares that The LORD is a warrior, the LORD is his name. So the question of violence is not that it is in the movie but is it tastfully done.

My opinion is that in this film it is not as bad as it could have been but it is definitly over the top.
My Ratings: [Average / 4]
—John Herby, age 31
Negative—“Road to Perdition” is, as expected, a dark and bloody gangster movie, with a very well written plot, excellent acting, very good music and cinematography and a fascinating morality message. This movie will be hailed by the experts as one of the great ones in years to come. Of course, from the Christian perspective, “Road to Perdition” is horribly wrong, grievously so. The central premise, that the sins of the father won’t necessarily be visited upon the son, contradicts the sense of Scripture and is completely improbable.

The only characters in this movie worth imitating are the lonely farmhouse couple who, inexplicably, nurse Mike back to health from the obligatory gunshot wound, performing minor surgery to remove the errant bullet. No reason for their compassion upon highly questionable strangers is ever offered, not even some Good Samaritan motivation. more »
—Alan Roberts
Negative—Although this movie is touted as one of the best movies in years, and although this movie has great acting in it, I found it so dark and gruesome that I had to actually walk out about half way through the movie.

I am ashamed to say I paid money for this movie. It is VERY dark, and has many disturbing images. One of my favorite sayings is “My mind is worth more than a $7 movie ticket.” Guard your mind and don’t see this movie.
My Ratings: [Extremely Offensive / 4]
—Dan, age 33
Negative—I thought this movie was good. The sad thing was it had the potential to be great. It was not a story of redemption… determination, yes… good intentions, yes… redemption, no.

It is so sad when someone thinks they are so deep in their sin that no one can save them. If the father had ended the cycle of violence (which he continued by exposing his son to it) and stood up for what is right and good it would have been a great movie. I’m not suggesting I know how this great feat could have been accomplished but I bet if he’d have been asked, God would.
My Ratings: [Average / 3½]
—Terese S., age 25
Negative—Not recommended. An unexpectedly dark story. Good acting and directing don’t compensate for the continuous violence. The story is also average.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive / 2½]
—Todd Adams, age 35
Negative—This film gets great reviews, for what??? If you see the movie you’ll ask the same question. Tom Hanks and Paul Newman; that’s all the film has. Otherwise the plot is a totally predictable murder-revenge theme. Not really worth your time; let alone money. I went ’cause the reviewers are rating it so high, WRONG.

When will they stop putting out marginal films and calling them great just ’cause they have a couple stars from other shows. Movie stars (Hanks and Newman are not exceptions) need to earn their place in every film and they certainly DO NOT here.
My Ratings: [Average / 1½]
—Bob Clark, age 38
Negative—It is hard to say I enjoyed this movie, because it was depressing. However, I am glad I saw it because I believe it made me assess my relationship with my family, and, in particular, my son. Tom Hanks was likeable, I think, mainly, because, hey, he’s Tom Hanks. That is rather strange since his character’s actions cause and/or lead to many deaths including his wife and son. Why should I like him? Perhaps because all of the other characters are even worse. Talk about relativism.

No one receives redemption in this movie. No one even asks, at least not in a rational way. Hanks character asks for revenge, but never for mercy. So much more could have been done with these sorry characters. Instead, they behave like puppets. Hanks shows little feeling. R2D2 emotes better. Hanks shows no fear, little regret, no internal conflict, very little anger, and, incredibly, miniscule guilt. I cannot relate to people like that. In fact, I don’t believe they exist in the real world. Only on the silver screen…
My Ratings: [Average / 3]
—Mark L. Gilliam, age 40
Negative—My husband and I read the review before seeing the movie today. For those of you who are easily affected by violence (bloody faces of persons shot) and of death, stay away from this one. I’m a veteran ER nurse and I was reduced to tears, not by all the blood, but by the hopelessness in the Catholic religion that the characters professed, but knew of no grace or mercy. (This theme was repeated over and over again!)

It is a truly dark film. As far as an art form, the movie was made well, perhaps even brilliantly. However, I had my eyes closed and had my ears plugged through several scenes so who knows what bad art forms I may have missed. Overall, I would not recommend this film.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive / 2]
—Barb Sayer, age 51
Movie Critics
…Michael does change from a cold mob assassin to a father determined to free his son from his father’s legacy of crime…
—Preview Family Movie and TV Review
…9 F-words… 1 religious profanity, 17 religious exclamations…
…Fathers, it will challenge you to take a close look at your relationship with your children (your sons especially) and examine how you think they see you versus how they really do…
—Holly McClure, Crosswalk
Comments from young people
Positive—Let me just start by saying that this is the best film to hit the theatres so far this year. The acting was good, the cinematography was beautiful, and the direction was superb. It’s definitely worth the money you would pay to see it, so check it out. You’ll be glad you did.
My Ratings: [Average / 5]
—Jared, age 16
Positive—This movie, does have its violence. It has its share of language too. But when the lights come up, you just sit there… In the theater I was at there was a lot of sniffles, sobbing, and downright crying. This movie is not for the light hearted, but it shows how a father influences his son, and how they go on the walk of life together.

There is violence, but they choose not to show it most of the time, but you do see the after effects. This is told from the boys point of view, so most of the violence he witnesses from his own eyes. Some scenes are dark, and there is not anything to see. It will make you cry, laugh, and smile. Catch a glimpse of the Road to Perdition. You will not regret it.
My Ratings: [5]
—Gar Davis, age 15

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