UK Release date: 27th September 2002
Watched on Sky+ Sunday 20th January 2013.
PLEASE NOTE: THERE MAY BE UNINTENTIONAL SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.
This is a film I have only seen once before (surprisingly); it was quite a few years ago but I do remember I was impressed with it. As it aired on TV this week, I decided to take the opportunity to re-acquaint myself with it. I wasn’t disappointed; it’s every bit as good as I remembered; if not better! Here’s a very brief outline before I give you my thoughts.
Mike Sullivan (Tom Hanks) works for gangland boss John Rooney (Paul Newman) in a town not far from Chicago in the 1930’s. Mike is sent out to talk to someone who spoke out of line. He goes with with Rooney’s son, Connor (Daniel Craig). Now Connor has been spending a bit too much time in Chicago and he gets a little trigger-happy and kills the man. They soon discover the shooting had been witnessed by Sullivan’s son, Michael (Tyler Hoechlin); who had stowed away in the car. He promises to say nothing but that’s not good enough for Connor, who not only goes out and kills Sullivan’s wife, Annie (Jennifer Jason Leigh), and younger son, Peter (Liam Aiken); but also tries to have Sullivan himself killed. This enrages Sullivan and he takes Michael on a road trip; a road trip of revenge. But can he prevent his son from following his own path?
Beautifully shot; I love the way the images almost match the cells in the graphic novel on which it’s based. This is without the use of any false colouring or camera trickery; it’s all done in the framing, I love the look of it. Also the use of sound was very refreshing; somehow gunshots have more impact when you don’t hear them. All the performances were excellent; particularly Tom Hanks, who is so skilled in this type of role. I also thought the young Tyler Hoechlin did a good job and Paul Newman and Daniel Craig were also excellent. I also enjoyed seeing Jude Law as a hit man, Harlen Maguire, sent out after the pair. It has quite a slow pace, but I didn’t mind that; it’s always absorbing and interesting and I rate it very highly.
SteelMonster’s verdict: HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
My score: 9.1/10.
IMDb Score: 7.7/10 (based on 135,321 votes when this review was written).
MetaScore: 72/100: (Based on 36 critic reviews provided by Metacritic.com at the time of going to press).
Rotten Tomatoes ‘Audience’ Score: 81/100 (based on 159,825 user ratings counted at the time of going to press).
If you’re crazy enough… You can find me on Facebook at:
Michael Sullivan, Jr.: There are many stories about Michael Sullivan. Some say he was a decent man. Some say there was no good in him at all. But I once spent 6 weeks on the road with him, in the winter of 1931. This is our story.
Peter Sullivan: Why are you always smiling?
Connor Rooney: 'Cause it's all so fuckin' hysterical.
John Rooney: Natural law. Sons are put on this earth to trouble their fathers.
[after seeing his father kill someone]
Michael Sullivan, Jr.: Does Mama know?
Michael Sullivan: Your mother knows I love Mr. Rooney. When we had nothing, he gave us a home... a life... and we owe him.
[Sullivan has a gun to Kelly's head]
Jack Kelly: Think, Mike. Don't be stupid. I'm just the messenger.
Michael Sullivan: [lowers his gun] Then give Mr. Rooney a message for me.
Jack Kelly: What is it?
[Maguire has pulled out a camera]
Michael Sullivan: Is that, uh... your profession or... your pleasure?
Maguire: Both, I guess. To be paid to do what you love... ain't that the dream?