Wednesday, November 2, 2022


 by Adam Riske

Winner for a “Best Intergenerational Film” at the AARP Movies for Grownups Awards.

• Best Scene/Moment (tie): The diner scenes (any movie is immediately better when there’s a diner scene) and the sequence where Tom Hanks ambushes Paul Newman and his bodyguards in the rain.

• Best Song: There’s a bunch of period specific (circa 1931) music played in the background during scenes, but instead I’m going to go with a selection from Thomas Newman’s incredible score called “The Farm.”

• Best Merch: A “Liam Aiken…Signed 3”x 5” Index Card” for $99.00. Liam Aiken played Tom Hanks and Jennifer Jason Leigh’s youngest son in Road to Perdition. I think this piece of merchandise is funny because a) it’s so plainly an autograph from a kid and b) it’s on an index card. I’ll never understand why there’s so many autographed index cards out there in the memorabilia market. Who wants a signed index card???
• Director Check: Road to Perdition was the second feature film directed by Sam Mendes, who won an Academy Award for Best Director with his debut film American Beauty (1999). Road to Perdition was well-liked but not the major award winner that Mendes’ first film was (though it got many end-of-year nominations). Mendes went on to direct a hit-and-miss selection of studio dramas afterwards, including 2005’s Jarhead (a movie I want to like more than I do), 2008’s Revolutionary Road (one of two movies where I passed out in the theater…don’t ask), and 2009’s Away We Go (which I haven’t seen). Mendes got a career bump on the coattails of the James Bond franchise, reuniting with Road to Perdition’s Daniel Craig and directing one of the best Bond films (Skyfall) and following it up with one of the worst (Spectre). In 2019, Mendes directed the long take/continuous shot war epic 1917, which I remember resisting at first but wound up really enjoying when I saw it. His latest is this fall’s Oscar-bait drama, Empire of Light, starring Olivia Coleman.

• Double It with This 2002 Movie: Gangs of New York

• Year 2002 Movies to Trailer Before It: Analyze That, Catch Me If You Can, Deuces Wild

Draft Day or Road to Perdition? Draft Day
• Mall Movie? No, this is a movie you would see with your grandparents so it would play at the fancy theater in town instead of the mall.

• Only in 2002: A “Who’s that guy?!” Daniel Craig performance.

• Scene Stealer: There’s a bunch to choose from since Tom Hanks underplays his part. I’ll go with Jude Law, who creates a memorable, creepy character playing a freelance killer/photographer.

• I Miss (tie): Movies with this much care put into their production design and Paul Newman.

• I Don’t Miss: The trope in the movies where someone gets shot and then a normal person (who’s not a doctor) performs surgery and cleans the wound perfectly. I’m sure this still happens in movies, but I feel like it happened all the time back in the day.

• 2002 Crush: Movies shot in Illinois.

• 2022 Crush: Jennifer Jason Leigh.
• What I Thought in 2002: I liked Road to Perdition when it was originally released (I remember seeing it twice in theaters) but I was slightly disappointed on my initial viewing because I thought Tom Hanks + gangster movie was going to = The Godfather and it didn’t. Once I removed that expectation, I really enjoyed Road to Perdition.

• What I Think in 2022: I’ve seen Road to Perdition probably a half-dozen times over the years and it always plays well for me. I think Tom Hanks and Paul Newman are miscast as ruthless gangsters/killers (more intimidating but also vulnerable actors like Ray Liotta or Jack Nicholson would’ve been better) but Hanks & Newman nail the father-son conflict which is most central to the movie’s success. Road to Perdition is just a capital GOOD movie. It’s easy to put on and revisit every few years.


  1. What a weird coincidence. When I opened my Netflix this morning, Road to Perdition was the "featured" movie at the top of the home page. I've never seen it, but I'll add it my Netflix watchlist. Sounds like something I'd enjoy.

    1. RtP is fantastic. It's one of those movies that i watch once a year (or every two years). That ambush scene is beautiful

  2. Oh, I'll watch it sooner rather than later in that case. Thanks.

  3. I remember seeing this in theaters when it came out. Because I saw it with both my parents, on vacation somewhere. Gosh, I didn't even remember it was a gangster movie. I don't even know if I realized it was a gangster movie at the time. Tom Hanks...he doesn't play bad guy well. Whoever he killed, I would think it was for good reason.

  4. Hell yeah. I think my favorite scene in the whole movie is Tom Hanks quietly answering this question from his son:

    "-Did you like Peter more than me?
    -No. No Michael. I loved you both the same.
    -But you were... different with me.
    -Was I? Well... maybe it was because Peter was such a sweet boy, you know? And you... you were more like me. And, I didn't want you to be. I didn't mean to be different.