When I was a child, the world of adults was a mystery to me. Like a foreign country, I had no passport to travel there and insights into what grown-ups did when we kids weren’t around, were rare and usually unintentional. Adult conversations ended when children entered the room and most of our knowledge came from what the big folk chose to tell us; we were protected. Information about the grown-up stuff was on a ‘need to know’ basis. Mostly, we didn’t need to know. In ‘Road to Perdition‘, young Michael Sullivan’s childhood is destroyed in the instant he crosses the invisible boundary into adult activity, witnessing first-hand what his father does for a living.
Mike Sullivan Sr (Tom Hanks) is a hitman, working for local gangster John Rooney (Paul Newman). Rooney has been good to Mike, raising him as his own, crediting him with more respect than his natural son, Connor (Daniel Craig). Mike has sons of his own, Michael Jr (Tyler Hoechlin) and Peter (Liam Aiken) and one day it occurs to Michael Jr that he has no idea how his father earns his wages. When Mike goes out one night, his son hides in the car. Watching, hidden, the young lad sees his father shoot another man dead.
Having been spotted by Connor Rooney, Michael has unwittingly thrown his family into the path of danger: Connor tries silence the boy but makes a terrible mistake. As a contract is taken out on Mike Sullivan’s life, he and his son have no choice but to run.
Hanks and Hoechlin sidestep cautiously around one another to start with, unused to relating to one another in any other way than as parent and child. But when Mike realises he will have to rely on his son to drive the getaway car, the dynamic of their relationship changes. Sullivan Sr does not want his son to be like him, but has he placed Michael in a position where he has no choice?
Directed by Sam Mendes, this film is beautifully crafted. The cinematography is exquisite, hence the Best Cinematography Oscar and BAFTA in 2003, awarded posthumously to Conrad L. Hall. As well as an impressive cast, the music is haunting and the plot gripping. Definitely one to watch. Just make sure your littlies are not peeking through the keyhole!