Oscar-winning director Sam Mendes (American Beauty) turns to the ever-popular gangster genre for his second outing. The result is a dark troubling drama of revenge that explores the ways fathers influence their sons in ways both desirable and destructive.

As is often the case, this mobster movie introduces men caught up in the violent cycle of "an eye for an eye." Michael Sullivan (Tom Hanks) is a murderous gangster in the employ of Mr. Rooney (Paul Newman) who rules the town with crime and a grandfatherly smile. Rooney treats Sullivan like a beloved son, which drives his own boy Connor Rooney (Daniel Craig) to dangerous jealousy. Connor is a reckless monster with an itchy trigger finger, and eventually his behavior deals Sullivan a devastating blow. Sullivan vows revenge, hoping Rooney and the mob will see his cause as just. They do not. Mr. Rooney reluctantly hires a perverse assassin (Jude Law) to hunt down Sullivan, who has taken his young son Michael Jr. and gone into hiding. So the chase is on as Sullivan plots his revenge.

Road to Perdition may look like just another way for Tom Hanks to make a bid for the Best Actor Oscar. Hype for film has centered on Hanks playing a "bad guy" for the first time. And yes, Hanks is impressive. But this is more than just an actor's showcase. Perdition is full of real questions and moral dilemmas. In a year when Americans have suffered grievously at the hands of violent men, the theme of revenge carries added weight. You may find it troubling as Mendes skillfully sways you to sympathize, and perhaps even cheer for, Sullivan as he guns down his colleagues. Sure, he's protecting his son, but he also has a bloody agenda for revenge. Is there a similarity between Sullivan's quest to gun ...

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