Reviews provided by RottenTomatoes
Mendes knows his way around a gangster movie, resurrecting the genre by grafting it to a Western's confrontational landscape.
Detroit Free Press:
Mendes ... proves that American Beauty was no fluke, only the first stop on a cinematic journey of intelligent entertainment that should involve us for years to come.
Its subject matter may be grim, but the film itself is exhilarating.
In an era of cinematic hyperbole, it is as impressive for its reticence as for its resonance.
A rare recent example of a big-budget Hollywood studio movie made with self-conscious artistry and ambition.
New York Times:
It inspires a continuing and deeply satisfying awareness of the best movies as monumental 'picture shows.'
Sam Mendes's 2002 follow-up to American Beauty finds him every bit as adept, arty, and Oscar hungry.
Wall Street Journal:
What makes the movie pay off is moving pictures of real action and of intimate scenes between man and boy that are all the more moving for being understated.
It's a film at times so visually beautiful, thanks to master cinematographer Conrad L. Hall, that it takes your breath away.
So is Perdition still a must-see? No question. But it's tough to fuss about it much when a picture is this fussy.
Eleanor Ringel Gillespie,
You can almost see Mendes and company getting together before a single frame had been shot and collectively vowing, 'This is going to be something really good.' And it is.
Los Angeles Times:
This is classic albeit somber filmmaking, restrained and all of a piece, by a director who believes film can tell adult stories in an adult manner, who knows the effects he wants and how to get them.
The most brilliant work in this genre since the 1984 uncut version of Sergio Leone's flawed but staggering Once Upon a Time in America.
Paul Clinton (CNN.com),
Feels strangely hollow at its emotional core.
It is an impressive accomplishment on its own artful terms, with strong performances by Hanks, Newman, Jude Law, Stanley Tucci and others elevating it above an exercise in style.
There's much that's simplistically touching, optimistic, and appealing in the filial trend, just as there's much that's simplistically grand, worthy, and fine in Perdition.
Globe and Mail:
For its textured visual detail, casting and snaking narrative, The Road to Perdition is a trip worth taking, though the recommendation comes with reservations.
For all the formal sophistication, there's something facile and nerveless about Mendes' work, and, in the trickery of the movie's final scenes, jarringly facetious, and sentimental to boot.
A gorgeous eyeful and earful of a gangster drama.
Visually, the picture is all of a piece, but it's a self-conscious piece of work -- all dark-toned academic classicism.
New York Magazine/Vulture:
The pulp shows clearly through the high-art preening: It isn't prominent enough to be fun, and the art, with few exceptions, isn't high enough to justify all the moody-blues meaningfulness.
New York Observer:
A rare and exemplary work of artistry and humanity that makes you think while it unfolds like the haunting pages of a novel you never want to end.
Serious movie-goers embarking upon this journey will find that The Road to Perdition leads to a satisfying destination.
After I saw Road to Perdition, I knew I admired it, but I didn't know if I liked it. I am still not sure. It is cold and holds us outside.
Neither a good Paul Newman nor a bad Tom Hanks can save this dreary art-house flick from the airless grip of American Beauty director Sam Mendes.
San Francisco Chronicle:
Directed by Sam Mendes, this movie might not be as flashy as his Oscar-winning American Beauty, but it's a smarter film, more mature and emotionally honest.
If you accept Road To Perdition on its own terms, as a kind of gangster opera that unfolds with a measured mythical grace, you quickly forgive the fact you're taking the road much travelled.
Ploughing a furrowed brow, Hanks is fatally miscast -- except that the story turns so sentimental and bathetic, he's actually in his element.
A crackerjack yarn delivered with more than enough conviction and panache to compensate for the occasional fit of self-importance.
While crisply edited and unindulgent, Mendes' work is gratifyingly old-school in its rejection of modern-day stylistic agitation, the better to achieve a slow but inexorable build to its climax.
Mendes still doesn't quite know how to fill a frame. Like the Hanks character, he's a slow study: The action is stilted and the tabloid energy embalmed.