Road to Perdition ★★

My best guess would be that Mendes was inspired to direct ROAD TO PERDITION based on the art direction, costumes and visual scale of other mobster movies, as those are the only areas in which ROAD TO PERDITION feels competently assembled, but there is an artificiality to the production design that always feels arranged rather than inhabited. Based on a comics series by Max Allan Collins, both the dialog and scenarios within ROAD TO PERDITION are hollow and deeply derivative, with its only pretense toward originality its late, falsely sentimental attempt to transform its story of vengeance and murder into an inspirational family drama. Worse than just poorly aping THE GODFATHER, ROAD TO PERDITION also owes a few debts to another of my favorite movie franchises, the six-part manga-based Japanese series LONE WOLF AND CUB, but it fundamentally misshapes every one of its borrowed parts by shoving them into a package that wants to be both unforgivingly violent and gooily maudlin. The most fatal blow of this schizophrenic approach is that it necessarily presents what should be hardened career criminals into naïfs who have never before been confronted with the moral pitfalls of their livelihoods, and who become half-paralyzed by their newly considered contradictions between bloody work and idealized family.

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