Paul Newman is terrific as the boss. He's a "gentle" soul with the true heart of a killer. Newman is a master of underplaying. His eyes tell us almost all we need to know, and the rest is conveyed in his husky voice. We should all age as openly and gracefully as Paul Newman!
Jude Law plays a hit man hired to track down and kill Hanks. What a crazy character he is...a photographer who enjoys photographing the moment his victims die. We've seen this sort of psychopath before, but to see it in a "period" piece rather than in modern times is a bit jarring. Law limps, has bad teeth and is just generally disgusting. He's a killer WITHOUT a gentle side. Is this more honest than Hanks' split personality? This is one of the questions I think the movie quietly explores.
The movie is not fast-paced, but I don't think it drags. It tells its story with respect for storytelling, rather than a need to have shooting all the time. Yet there is plenty of action and there are many tense moments, particularly between Hanks and Law, who have some memorable confrontations, particularly when they are in a crowded diner together, and Hanks realises who Law is and what he has been sent to do.
About halfway through the movie, Hanks and his son, who are on the lam from retribution, decide they need to make a statement to the boss. Hanks decides they need to rob all the banks where the mob keeps its money, in order to get their attention. He and his son have several "wacky" bank-holdup scenes, with Hanks being very amusing with the bemused bank tellers, and his young son being funny learning how to drive by being the getaway driver. The scenes are fun...you can imagine Speilberg directing them. Yet they are untrue to the tone of the movie. These two people have just recently lost the rest of their family very violently, and their lives have become hell. Yet suddenly, they are in a screwball comedy!! I'm sure director Sam Mendes felt the audience needed a break from all the bleakness, but ultimately, these scenes betray the characters, and that's why the movie only gets 4 stars from me.
BUT any discerning moviegoer should see this movie...it's one of the 10 best of the year, I think.
What did you think of this review?