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Road to Perdition
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Road to Perdition is an Oscar-winning 2002 drama in which a tween son in the 1930s discovers that his father is a mobster hit man, and then must flee his home with him. There is a lot of mob-movie violence. Characters are shot and killed with guns and machine guns, often at point-blank range. The tween boy is shown in the middle of a fistfight with another tween boy; this happens shortly after the boy discovers what his father does for a living by spying on a murder in which his father is an accomplice. Regular profanity, including "f--k," is used by both adults and the tween boy. Other profanity includes "s--t," "p---y," "d--k," "ass," and "hell." Cigarette and pipe smoking is shown, including pipe smoking by the tween boy. Some talk about sex is heard; antagonist stays with a prostitute.
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What's the story?
ROAD TO PERDITION centers on Michael Sullivan (Tom Hanks), a tough hit man in 1931 Chicago, whose loyalty and sense of duty keep him working for John Rooney (Paul Newman), a friendly but firm Irish mob boss. Rooney treats Sullivan like a son. Sullivan keeps his family out of his work, but when his curious son Michael Jr. (Tyler Hoechlin) sees something he isn't supposed to see, Rooney's jealous and paranoid son Connor (Daniel Craig) tries to make sure he doesn't talk by killing Sullivan's wife (Jennifer Jason Leigh) and youngest son (Liam Aiken), missing Michael Jr. With his surviving son, Sullivan sets out on a road trip as he seeks vengeance on Connor and tries to avoid his former affiliates. Along the way, he robs banks while his son drives the getaway car. To make matters worse, there is a sadistic, despicable man who photographs murder scenes (Jude Law) on Sullivan's trail, and he's willing to assist the murder process to get a good shot. Adventures ensue, and the Sullivans meet many people and go many places with mixed results until the film's inevitable conclusion.
Is it any good?
Road to Perdition is a powerful, beautifully made film about fathers and sons and sin and redemption. It overcomes minor flaws through beautiful directing and first-class performances. The story is interesting, with the father-son relationships and David Self's adapted screenplay being both realistic and intriguing.
However, some important factors, such as more about Jude Law's character and some essential aspects of Sullivan and Rooney's relationship are ignored, as this ambitious film is scared of being overlong, an oft-criticized quality of epic dramas like The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile. It leaves the viewer to decide, but if it had just gone out on a limb there, the film could've been saved from having some baffling moments at its conclusion.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Mafia-themed movies. How does this move compare to others in the genre? What do you see as the appeal of movies like these?
This movie was based on a novel. What do you think the challenges would be in adapting a novel into a movie?
How does this movie explore the theme of the relationship between fathers and sons?
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.