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Road to Perdition(2002)
Twelve-year-old Michael Sullivan Jr is curious about what his father does for a living, and one night decides to hide in his car as he goes off to work. It soon transpires that the elder Sullivan is a hitman for the mob, and when young Michael witnesses a killing carried out by the gangster boss' son Connor, it starts off a chain of events which will mark Michael's life forever.
For more about Road to Perdition and the Road to Perdition Blu-ray release, see Road to Perdition Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on July 30, 2010 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Director: Sam Mendes
Writer: David Self
Starring: Tom Hanks, Paul Newman, Jude Law, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Daniel Craig, Stanley Tucci
» See full cast & crew
Road to Perdition Blu-ray Review
A masterpiece of sight, sound, and story debuts on Blu-ray as a stunning package from Paramount.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, July 30, 2010
Is one more body going to make a difference?
Road to Perdition is an innately gorgeous exhibit of art moving at 24 frames per second. The film, as directed by Sam Mendes (Jarhead) and photographed by Conrad Hall (American Beauty), is as visually captivating as it is thematically enthralling, a potent combination to be sure, the result a picture that's easily one of the finest ever released in terms of offering a complete package of sight, sound, soulful emotion, and stirring storytelling. It's a film that's both stylish and stylistically significant, a film that uses its dark visuals as the ultimate metaphoric reinforcement of its story and themes on the bonds of love and the pains of unending violence. Road to Perdition -- an aptly-titled film if there ever was one -- sees its characters travel down a darkened road of violence begetting violence begetting suffering, culminating in the ultimate test of the devil's desire to see a world of pain extend beyond its boundaries and gain inroads with the innocent, those who still have a choice in their journey towards great pain or gentle peace.
It's the winter of 1931. It is the time of Al Capone, of great violence, a slumping economy, and prohibition. It's also the backdrop for a six-week journey of violence and self-discovery for 12-year-old Michael Sullivan, Jr. (Tyler Hoechlin). His father, Michael Sr. (Tom Hanks, Saving Private Ryan), is a tough-as-nails but highly intelligent enforcer working for local crime boss John Rooney (Paul Newman, Cool Hand Luke). When one of the syndicate's own, Finn McGovern (Ciarán Hinds), loses his brother, he drunkenly speaks out against Mr. Rooney at the wake. Michael Sr. defuses the situation, but it's one situation that cannot go ignored. Michael and Mr. Rooney's son, Connor (Daniel Craig, Defiance), pay Finn a visit, but it ends badly; Finn and two of his goons are killed, the violence provoked by Connor's itchy trigger finger. Unfortunately, Michael Jr. -- unbeknownst to either his father or to Connor -- tags along, hiding in a trunk underneath the back seat of the car. He's witness to the shootings that prove not only an indelible memory but an event that will lead both Michael Jr. and his father on a journey of violence and despair that seems to know no end.
Visually, several aspects of Road to Perdition recall The Godfather; Cinematographer Conrad Hall's bleak palette and sometimes slightly soft focus recall Gordon Willis' masterpiece of shadow, and it's no surprise that both films share in common themes of familial bonds and the repercussions of violence. Road to Perdition isn't the epic tale that is The Godfather, but Sam Mendes' picture certainly plays with many of the same kinds of emotional resonances as Francis Ford Coppola's all-time classic. Stylistically, Road to Perdition seems the modern-day equivalent; a viewing evokes not only satisfaction with the story but wonderment at the skill of the filmmakers to craft a picture that's as strikingly artful as this. Road to Perdition is awash in noir imagery and metaphorical environments that both add visual weight to the picture's complex themes. What's amazing about Road to Perdition is that Mendes and Hall capture these elements with not only an unmatched grace but also in such a way that the symbolism inherent to the picture's visual scheme is unmistakable but never patently obvious to the point that it becomes detrimental to the film. Road to Perdition is film-as-art accomplished at a level rarely achieved in mainstream cinema, and its breathtaking style plays wonderfully with its additional elements that elevate it to the level of modern-day classic.
At the center of Road to Perdition is a story of unspeakable pain and tragedy and the resultant choices that lay a foundation for the future of several characters as they enter into a world of despair brought by their own actions, actions, however, that are defined and framed differently for each individual. Road to Perdition is a film of contrasts, of degrees, of perspectives, all of which come to define the picture's central conflict. Through the prism of violence the audience will find characters that act on love, greed, loyalty, and self-satisfaction; they converge with different outlooks and purposes behind their actions but ultimately find in their lives the same brutal outcome. The film speaks, then, on the ending circle of violence and its devastating results that care not for the hows and the whys but only for the bloodshed that's left behind. Through all of its dark elements and violence, Road to Perdition finds balance with some gently-introduced humor midway through the film, just when it needs it the most. Like everything else about the movie, it's worked into the story with a grace that lightens the load while advancing the story and further developing the characters, serving as another example of how Mendes manages to always keep his film going with a visual, thematic, and emotional rhythm that's as striking as any of the many singular achievements the film enjoys. Mendes' film is also home to a strong assortment of talent -- including Hollywood legend Paul Newman's final on-screen appearance before his death in 2008 and a pre-James Bond Daniel Craig -- that only reinforce the picture's many strengths, but it's nevertheless the filmmakers' who shine brightest through Road to Perdition's unflinchingly bleak but purposeful and resonant façade.
Road to Perdition Blu-ray, Video Quality
It's almost criminal to give Road to Perdition's fantastic and wonderfully faithful 1080p transfer less than a perfect score, but wobbly opening title credits and some random pops and speckles over the image prove just enough to knock the total down a half-notch. Don't let those nitpicks detract from just how gorgeous Paramount's high definition presentation truly is, though. Road to Perdition isn't one of those eye-popping, three-dimensional, brightly-colored, and impeccably-detailed Pixar-type transfers. Quite the contrary, Conrad Hall's photography is often dark and slightly soft, and it's captured in all its film-like glory here. Films like Road to Perdition truly define the Blu-ray experience. Here's a transfer that's so faithful and so beautifully filmic that it's easy to get lost in the nuances of the image. Grain is handsomely retained over the screen, but that's not the only area whereby this transfer does its part to transform a home theater into a well-cared-for cinema. Fine detail is exceptional, even through the many shadows and softer elements found throughout the picture. Brighter scenes fare best -- the smallest details seen on character faces during the picture's climax is nothing short of stunning -- but even black trenchcoats and hats seen in the picture's more dark and unforgiving scenes prove exceptionally detailed. Though the picture is absent an aggressive color scheme, the Blu-ray handles Hall's and Mendes' palette brilliantly; shadow detail remains excellent, and blacks are pure and absorbing to just the right level. As with other stunningly film-like Blu-ray transfers, the only real shortcoming here lies not with the quality of the image, but instead the fact that the movie and its Blu-ray presentation demand a viewing on the largest of surfaces. For lovers of fine filmmaking and Blu-ray discs that are reflective of the filmmakers' original intent, Road to Perdition is among the finest available in both regards.
Road to Perdition Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Road to Perdition's Blu-ray release features a reference-quality DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless soundtrack. Paramount's latest offering is consistently smooth and seamless in presentation. Thomas Newman's (Revolutionary Road) Oscar-nominated score enjoys a warmth and richness that blends seamlessly with the visuals and seems to float into the soundstage with no effort and with a realism that's hard to top. The track features exceptionally-realized atmospherics, too. Whether more gentle elements such as gusty winds and rolling waves or more aggressive elements like the rumbling of an elevated train or driving rain, this DTS track delivers a potent but altogether natural and, just as importantly, seamless environmental support structure. The track's bread-and-butter, though, comes from its devastatingly powerful and sonically frightening gunfire. Whether the rat-a-tat of Michael's Thompson machine gun, the boom of Maguire's Winchester shotgun, or the reports of Michael's 1911 .45 pistol, the track delivers the realism of a firing range and with it the sense of danger and devastation wrought by each weapon. Supported by problem-free dialogue reproduction, Road to Perdition delivers one of the year's finest soundtracks to date.
Road to Perdition Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Beginning with a brief introduction to the film's Blu-ray release with Director Sam Mendes (1080i, 1:18), Road to Perdition features a nice assortment of extra content. A feature-length audio commentary track with Director Sam Mendes is one of the highlights. He offers up a wonderfully absorbing track, discussing a string of pertinent thematic and technical issues that frame the picture within a context of the difficult and involved work that went into the making of the film. Mendes covers the picture's score, its comic book origins, the picture's visual style, Mendes' structure and reasoning behind the framing of particular shots, the contextual elements of the filmmaking process that support the movie's themes, and plenty more. This is one of the more intelligent and engaging tracks available, and it's a must-listen for film fans. A Cinematic Life: The Art & Influence of Conrad Hall (1080i, 26:39) is a retrospective piece that looks back on the career of the Oscar-winning cinematographer, beginning with a glimpse into his youth and moving through his career with a focus on his work on films like Searching for Bobby Fischer, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and Road to Perdition. The piece is constructed via interview snippets, still photographs, clips form his films, and behind-the-scenes footage.
The Library: A Further Exploration of the World of 'Road to Perdition' (1080i) is an extensive interactive piece that permits users to "experience more about the creative process, real world setting, and historical inspiration for the original graphic novel and feature adaptation." Users may select from four primary options -- "Crime Scene Portraits," "Real World Organized Crime," "News Stories of the Day," and "Inspiration & Adaptation" -- each with several subheadings to peruse. The Making of 'Road to Perdition' (480p, 25:04) is an informative but basic-in-structure behind-the-scenes piece that examines the picture's origins, the work of the cast and crew, the film's themes, its visuals, costumes, set designs, and more. Rounding out this strong assortment of extra content is a collection of eleven deleted scenes with optional commentary from Director Sam Mendes (480p, 22:16) and the film's theatrical trailer (1080p, 2:52).
Road to Perdition Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Every year, there are always a few select films snubbed from contention in the race for Oscar's best picture. Every decade, there are one or two films that stand out amongst those as the best of the unjustly left behind. One such picture is Director Edward Zwick's Glory, and another is Sam Mendes' Road to Perdition. Though not completely overlooked during awards season -- Conrad Hall won a much-deserved posthumous Oscar for his exemplary cinematography and the film received several additional nominations -- the absence of a Best Picture nomination, as with Glory, seems one of the great injustices in the long history of the awards. Nevertheless, those missing notches from its belt in no way detract from what a remarkable piece of filmmaking this is. Road to Perdition is easily one of the most beautiful pictures ever made. It's got a great cast and an even better story as complimentary pieces, but there's no doubt that it's in Mendes' and Hall's brilliant craftsmanship where Road to Perdition will find its legacy as one of cinema's finest works of art. Paramount's Blu-ray release of Road to Perdition is almost as good as the movie. The picture quality is impeccably faithful to the source, and the disc also features a pitch-perfect lossless soundtrack and a wonderful assortment of extras. Road to Perdition earns my highest recommendation.
Road to Perdition: Other Editions
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Road to Perdition Blu-ray, News and Updates
• This Week on Blu-ray: August 3-9 - August 3, 2010
Every young boy goes through a phase where, to their mother's dismay, they tie on a bed-sheet cape and run around the house pretending to be their favorite superhero. Every superhero-inspired film released is accompanied by boat-loads of toys that help to enhance ...
• Road to Perdition Blu-ray Announced - May 3, 2010
Paramount Home Entertainment has announced Road to Perdition for Blu-ray release on August 3. This crime movie from Dreamworks SKG, directed by Sam Mendes and starring Tom Hanks, Jude Law and the late Paul Newman, received multiple Academy Award nominations and ...
• Road to Perdition Blu-ray Coming Soon in Europe - February 9, 2010
Confirming earlier reports indicating that the Sam Mendes gangster movie Road to Perdition would come out on Blu-ray soon, British retailer HMV already has that title up for preorder, with a release date of May 24. No release details are available at the moment. ...
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