The Road to Perdition

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Remo D
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The Road to Perdition

Post by Remo D » Sat Jul 13, 2002 8:15 pm

Tom Hanks is going to be nominated for an Oscar for this...

...of course, one could safely make THAT prediction without ever seeing THE ROAD TO PERDITION. The truth is that Tom Hanks gets nominated for an Oscar for EVERY film he makes these days--the nomination process must go something like "Tom Hanks... and who else?" Imagine the consternation last time around when he busied himself with his television work and didn't release a single feature film!!!

(For the record, I have absolutely nothing against Tom Hanks or his work--the collective ass-kissing of Hollywood... good Lord, another "Lifetime Achievement Award" for someone who isn't even close to retiring... isn't something I'd project on him.)

Truth be told, Hanks does, indeed, deliver an excellent performance here, but two points need to be made. First, casting him as a hit man does not qualify as a "daring image change." He's still a "good guy" in the context of the film, and he hurts noone but certified "bad guys." The same lack of follow-through that ultimately betrayed Robin Williams' psycho-turn in DEATH TO SMOOCHY applies here, as well. Cast Hanks as a VILLAIN... make him kill people we LIKE... make us wish his character DEAD... then we'll talk "image change." And second--you'll be happy to know that Paul Newman still has what it takes to blow him off the screen whenever he wants to...

You may have heard that the graphic novel that inspired this film takes a rather major cue from LONE WOLF AND CUB. Yes, the similarity is there in concept (betrayed assassin walks the vengeance trail with his young son), but I don't think I need to point out that this is still nothing like SHOGUN ASSASSIN.

But it's well worth seeing--Sam Mendes has crafted a fantastic series of set-pieces. Watch Hanks deliver a letter to an "account payable." Watch the playoff in the diner, and look out for the meeting with the accountant in the hotel room. And listen to these scenes, too... not only are the cinematography and acting first-rate, but the sound design is crafted for maximum tension throughout.

The film is so good, in fact, that it makes the last ten minutes all the more frustrating. I won't say a word about what takes place, but the debate will come down to whether it should be described as "predictable" or "inevitable." In either case, you'll see the whole thing coming a mile away--but how would YOU have ended this story?

Recommended viewing as I see it--I look forward to your reactions.
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Post by shawn » Sun Jul 14, 2002 7:50 am

Remo, I heard this thing was a gorefest? Any truth to that?
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Post by Remo D » Sun Jul 14, 2002 8:19 am

It's certainly no SHOGUN ASSASSIN and (for Hanks's audience) it's no SAVING PRIVATE RYAN, either.

Much of the violence is restrained, but there are occasional graphic bursts (shock-cut bullet in forehead, faces peppered with shells and splinters, chunky red splash on white wall, etc.). But people will probably come away with more vivid memories of a massacre that's staged in near-silence.

Some of it will shock some mainstreamers, no doubt--but if they've even so much as seen GOODFELLAS, then they're not going to come away saying "gorefest." You certainly shouldn't check it out for that reason.
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Post by bruce h » Sun Jul 14, 2002 2:05 pm

*Spoilers*

I personally liked it better the first time I saw it, when it was called SHOGUN ASSASSIN. I couldn't help but sit there the whole time and think what a rip-off it was - from thematic (an assassin for a big boss must turn against the man who gave him everything, after the murder of the wife and son which sets the revenge in motion, etc), to the specific ("Little Kid helps Wounded Dad" scene, the occasional voiceover narrative, etc).

Asian Cult Cinema columnist Max Allen Collins should be ashamed of himself for passing his graphic novel off to the producers as an original work - why don't I just write CARRIE, but make it in space and shop it off as my own? I'll be rich in no time.
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Post by Remo D » Sun Jul 14, 2002 8:27 pm

Bruce, I basically agree, but it's a case of "what are you going to do?" THE ROAD TO PERDITION should have acknowledged LONE WOLF AND CUB, but it didn't. At least they didn't make a swordplay movie out of it, and at least I saw something appreciably different with a lot of things worth recommending.

PALE RIDER should have acknowledged SHANE--it didn't, and I don't think Clint Eastwood is particularly worried about it, either.

We all know what became of CITY ON FIRE, but there's no point in burning my copy of RESERVOIR DOGS, either--I still like it, even though Mr. Tarantino should have acknowledged his inspiration ON SCREEN, not in a later interview.

And "Lover's Vow," the third and final story in TALES FROM THE DARKSIDE: THE MOVIE was credited solely to Michael McDowell when he owed a huge page to Lafcadio Hearn and KWAIDAN. Still, I like having that movie.

It would serve everyone involved right if ROAD TO PERDITION couldn't be discussed without SHOGUN ASSASSIN being invoked, but I fear that's just a dream.

By the way, is that the same Collins who did MOMMY and MOMMY'S DAY with Patty McCormack?
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Post by bruce h » Mon Jul 15, 2002 12:24 am

Yes, the same Max Allan Collins was responsible for MOMMY 1+2, as well as another flick Troma distributes called something like REAL TIME: SIEGE ON MARKET STREET.

As far as ROAD TO PERDITION goes, the worst part is that I can't blame my frustration on the film itself - because everyone involved did an excellent job and it's detriments are no fault of those who made it. The others I viewed the film with loved it, so what do I know?

As far as Tarantino goes, I personally think he always manages to add enough new elements and twists into his cinematic amalgamations to make them stand more as new entities than standard rip-offs. Hell, I liked RESERVOIR DOGS more than CITY ON FIRE! Of course, I also like SORCERER more than WAGES OF FEAR... Remakes or updatings can definitely work if the right talent is involved, and with ROAD TO PERDITION it was, but this is one case where I felt an injustice was dealt and I couldn't check my bias at the door.
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one extra point.

Post by Linn » Mon Jul 15, 2002 10:25 pm

In the intro to the graphic novels and the new collected ed., M.A.C. goes on for quite a while about the LW&C "influence" on the story. But you'd think as a lover of Asian films, he'd insist on a credit of some sort for the man that made it all. And BTW, M.A.C. is a suck ass writer from what I've seen when it comes to originality. His best stuff, is in fact based on other people's ideas: The Mommy 1 and 2 are "sequels" to the Bad Seed, R.P., and assorted books based on films. Of the two or three I've read, his originals aren't that good and for the most part rip off Mike Hammer or Hamett . Oh and his first claim to fame, the comic Ms. Tree, is still the best thing he ever did!

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Post by I am 138 » Sun Aug 04, 2002 12:29 am

I liked American Beauty better.

But the rainy massacre was very good. Reminded me of Woo, before he went on to doing Hollywood sequels...

I thought the ending was predictable, but also realistic (to an extent) so wasn't bothered by it.

My wife really liked the ending because of the build up to it which she pointed out was like...





***********SPOILER*********







a typical, perfect, normal Tom Hanks, happy Hollywood ending that's violently yanked from a mainstream audience.
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Post by Darth Tanner » Sat Oct 12, 2002 7:16 am

Here I am finally catching up to this. I managed to catch ROAD TO PERDITION during its last day in town and was impressed with it. I agree that SHOGUN ASSASSIN sprang to mind while I was watching, but it didn't keep me from enjoying the movie one bit. While I'm more partial to AMERICAN BEAUTY, I still have to say that Sam Mendes has created a handsome film. Tom Hanks and Jude Law were both outstanding in their roles. Academy Award nods are pretty much inevitable, but I have to say that this is one film that deserves them for a change.
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