The quality of Hanks's acting in Road to Perdition is outstanding. The same is true of others in the cast, notably Paul Newman (John Rooney), Jude Law (Maguire), Daniel Craig (Connor Rooney), and Tyler Hoechlin (Michael Sullivan, Jr.). What I did not fully realize until seeing the film again is that the older Sullivan son (not his father, played by Hanks) is the the focal point of the film, especially after brutal events which are best revealed in the film itself. Hoechlin is among the most talented of younger actors, female or male. In this film, he skillfully portrays a doting and devoted son who inadvertently becomes centrally involved in his father's career in crime. The situation is exacerbated by the fact that Rooney sees Michael Sr. as his "true" son. For obvious reasons, this infuriates Rooney's natural son Connor, a vicious but incompetent heir to his father's mob "franchise."
This film is set in the 1930s. As crime became "organized," certain policies and procedures were agreed upon and strictly enforced. The mobsters' model was the corporate structure, probably General Motors with its hierarchies, divisions, special units, strategic alliances, etc. Activities were organized within specific territories. In this film, Rooney (Newman) rules the Tri Cities area which consists of Moline and Rock Island, Illinois, and nearby Davenport, Iowa. He reports to a "corporate headquarters" located in Chicago, headed by Al Capone.
With regard to the title, it refers to a journey undertaken by the two Sullivans and others before reaching what proves to be -- for most of them -- a violent destination. Who among them will be eternally damned? The title also refers to a town to which Michael Sr. plans to take his son once he (Sr.) eliminates the threats to them both. Special credit to David Self for an extraordinarily clean and crisp script, and to Conrad L. Hall's cinematography which earned for him an Academy Award. As for Hanks being "out of character" in this part, his acting skills ensure that he is every bit as credible as Michael Sr. as he is as Forrest Gump. In years to come, it will be interesting to observe the course and direction of his career. Perhaps he has only begun to reveal the nature and extent of what his talents can achieve.
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