Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5. USA, 2002. DreamWorks, Twentieth Century Fox, The Zanuck Company. Screenplay by David Self, based on the graphic novel by Max Allan Collins, Richard Piers Rayner. Cinematography by Conrad L. Hall. Produced by Sam Mendes, Dean Zanuck, Richard D. Zanuck. Music by Thomas Newman. Production Design by Dennis Gassner. Costume Design by Albert Wolsky. Film Editing by Jill Bilcock. Academy Awards 2002. Golden Globe Awards 2002. Washington Film Critics Awards 2002.
Should be called Road To Pretentious; it’s so perfectly photographed and brilliantly art-directed within an inch of its life that it makes for the most shameless Oscar-baiting of the year. Tom Hanks plays a henchman in a 1930s Irish mob family run by Paul Newman who decides to get revenge on his employer when Newman’s own point their pistols towards him and his family. Jude Law is the film’s most inspired performance as the creepy assassin/photographer hired to find Hanks and take care of him before he succeeds in his mission. Gorgeous to look at and powerfully dramatic, the film is told from the point of view of Hanks’ young son, whose innocence is shattered by the world of murder and betrayal that he is exposed to. Enjoyable and well paced, it would be so much better if director Sam Mendes just told his story instead of trying to impress everyone with how grown up his sophomore movie is; it seems that to follow up his success with American Beauty he places more emphasis on pedigree than entertainment value. All the same, it’s a reasonably memorable melodrama with an excellent period feel.