Let's dispel right now any claims of "Road to Perdition" being an extraordinary, Oscar-worthy film, as its advertising campaign touts.
This redemption fable set against a 1930s gangland backdrop may be vividly realized by director Sam Mendes ("American Beauty") and reasonably well acted by a talented cast. But while the picture's mood is inspired by the independent spirit of 1970s crime dramas, it's been given a send-'em-home-smiling, corporate Hollywood scrubbing clean. It has simplistically clear-cut (if somewhat cloaked) morals, it follows a rigidly predictable story arc, and it does not feature the departure performance by Tom Hanks that you may have been hearing about.
Sure Hanks plays an Irish mafia enforcer with a tommy gun and a taste for revenge. But he's a good and troubled soul, trying to save his 12-year-old son from the kind of life he's led. That makes Michael Sullivan very much a Tom Hanks kind of character. He may be sullied, but ultimately he's modest and heroic.
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