Revisiting Tom Hanks’ Road to perdition: when America’s sweetheart played an assassin

Tom Hanks has made several films where he plays the “nice guy” who does the “right thing”. In fact, some would even say he has made quite a career playing good men on screen. Seriously, do you remember a movie where he didn’t do the right thing and won hearts? Hard to remember, right? As it turns out, America’s lover Hanks performed a variety of darker roles on screen. But there are only a handful of them, and they’re neither critically acclaimed nor commercially successful. The director of Sam Mendes Road to Perdition was an interesting line for Tom to take, especially in the latter half of his career. By the time Hanks donned the hat (literally) of silent assassin Mike Sullivan, he already had two decades in Hollywood.

Some would argue that this is the time when actors come into their own and are ready to push the boundaries, and others would reject such a risk, given that the times Hanks played the villain, it just didn’t happen. went so well. at the end for the movie. But Hanks had made up his mind, even though he had said he would never go out of his way to play the villain. In Road to Perdition, Hanks does what he rarely gets onscreen: holding a gun and walking the cobbled streets as everyone watches him with fear in their eyes.


For lack of a better word, Tom Hanks plays an anti-hero in Road to Perdition. Someone with questionable intentions, cannot be trusted easily, but still manages to stay loyal to their foster father and local gift, John Rooney (played by another American legend, Paul Newman). Daniel Craig plays Rooney’s son, Connor. Connor is a stupid, conceited man, jealous of his father’s bond with Mike. And so Connor does something that he knows will hurt Mike the most and make him turn his back on his father. Connor kills Mike’s wife and youngest son. What follows forms the crux of the plot.

Tom Hanks and Paul Newman Tom Hanks and Paul Newman in Road to Perdition. (Photo: 20th century fox)

Here’s what’s different about this particular crowd story. Set during the Depression, this period piece is as much about gang violence as it is about fathers and sons. Traditionally, fathers aren’t known to be very expressive, and that was more of a reality at the time. Here we see a similar type of relationship between the characters of Newman and Hanks, between Craig and the character of Newman. Then there’s the deal that binds Mike de Hanks to his oldest son, Michael. All of these relationships put the idea of ​​”hard love” into practice. But tough love doesn’t mean you aren’t ready to go the extra mile for your offspring. It is this almost paradoxical nature of these links that keeps the audience engaged.

And if you had any doubts about how Hollywood’s cutest guy Mr. Tom Hanks would play this stern, silent father figure who wields a gun for a living, then throw those doubts out the window. Because Hanks plays Sullivan with honesty, and yes, with that sincerity that is the hallmark of every Hanks performance. He never gives you the opportunity to disbelieve him. You never imagine anyone else as the quietly dangerous yet loyal hitman Mike. It also helped that the cast of the set was just as believable, if not more so. Mostly Tyler Hoechlin (Hanks’ onscreen son), Daniel Craig, Jude Law and Paul Newman.

Road to Perdition is a beautifully shot film, filled with expressive silences that are only broken by bloodshed and gunshots. And Tom Hanks competently directs the film, with a determined and majestic conviction about it.


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