Review: Road to Perdition Blu-ray

Road to Perdition Blu-ray boxSTUDIO: Universal | DIRECTOR: Sam Mendes | CAST: Tom Hanks, Paul Newman, Jude Law
RELEASE DATE: 8/3/2010 | PRICE: Blu-ray $29.99
BONUSES: featurettes, deleted scenes, commentary
SPECS: R | 117 min. | Drama | 2.35:1 | DTS-HD audio | English, French, Spanish subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie | Audio | Video | Extras  | Overall

Road to Perdition movie scene with Tom Hanks and Tyler HoechlinRoad to Perdition, about a Mob hit man (Tom Hanks from Angels & Demons) who goes on the run with his son (Tyler Hoechlin of Solstice) after his son witnesses a Mob murder, is a well directed and produced film that’s beautifully shot, and all that comes through in this Blu-ray edition.

The 2002 tense crime drama features universally good performances from Hanks, a young Hoechlin, Paul Newman (The Color of Money) as the Mob boss (Newman was nominated for an Academy Award for his performance), Jude Law (Repo Men) as a crime scene photographer, James Bond’s Daniel Craig as Newman’s son and Stanley Tucci (The Lovely Bones) as a Mob henchman.

In his introduction on the Road to Perdition Blu-ray disc, director Sam Mendes admits he didn’t see the point of his Mob drama being released on high-definition. “I was a bit of a Blu-ray sceptic to begin with. I thought, ‘Well, the movie looked pretty good to begin with. How could it be better?’ But the truth is, … it really is astonishing the difference.”

Most fans might not be too “astonished” by the Blu-ray, as some of the detail is lost in the film’s dark scenes, but Mendes is right when he lauds how the movie looks. From the ripples of the ocean in the opening scene to the rain drops in the final, the picture is clear and sharp. The movie’s bleak, textured look is preserved, but Blu-ray enhances what color there is, such as Newman’s magnetic blue eyes.

As good as the video is, the high-definition sound is just as impressive. Road to Perdition‘s beautiful Irish-inspired score is sings through the speakers, and the many bullets fire out.

All in all, the Blu-ray is a good presentation of cinematographer Conrad Hall’s Oscar-winning work. Says Mendes, “I think [Hall] would be smiling down on us from up high, because I think he would be as astonished and delighted as I am at the way the film looks.”

The late Hall, who died in 2003, is remembered in the tribute featurette “A Cinematic Life: The Art & Influence of Conrad Hall.” It’s a well put together piece that explores the films of the three-time Oscar winner, including Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and Search for Bobby Fischer. Mendes says about the latter that Hall made chess visceral and emotional because of the way he shot and lit the scenes.

Mendes also talks about how much help Hall gave him during the filming of Mendes’ first movie, American Beauty, even reminding him that he has to say “Cut” at the end of a scene.

The documentary also includes a snippet of an interview with Hall about shooting Perdition. Hall says that, although Perdition isn’t his type of film, “anytime Sam Mendes needs me, I’ll be there.”

The Blu-ray also extends the story of the movie with the feature “The Library: A Further Exploration of the World of Road to Perdition.” Viewers can click through for more information on different aspects of the story, such as crime scene photographers, such as those who inspired the character played by Law. There’s also information on the real Chicago gangsters of the time, such as Al Capone. Info is given through text as well as filmed interviews.

The other three special features on the Blu-ray, a commentary by Mendes, deleted scenes and a making-of featurette, have all been on earlier DVD releases.


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About S. Clark

Sam Clark is the former Managing Editor/Online Editor of Video Business magazine. With 19 years experience in journalism, 12 in the home entertainment industry, Sam has been hooked on movies on since she saw E.T. then stared into the sky waiting to meet her own friendly alien. Thanks to her husband’s shared love of movies, Sam reviews Blu-ray discs in a true home theater, with a 118-inch screen, projector and cushy recliners with cup holders.