The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: DreamWorks/Paramount - 2002
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 117 minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 2.35:1
Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, French/Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, English, French, Spanish
Starring: Tom Hanks, Paul Newman, Jude Law, Daniel Craig, Tyler Hoechlin, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Stanley Tucci
Directed by: Sam Mendes
Music by: Thomas Newman
Written by: David Self
Region Code: A
Blu-ray Disc release Date: August 3, 2010
"This is the life we chose, the life we lead…"
Two-time Academy Award® winner Tom Hanks, Academy Award® winner Paul Newman and Oscar® nominee Jude law star in Road to Perdition, a mesmerizing tale of a father and son bound together by tragedy and betrayal. On an unforgettable journey of honor, vengeance and redemption, they confront overwhelming odds – and forge an indestructible bond. Hailed for the powerhouse performances of its stars and the stunning impact of its story, Road to Perdition is an electrifying experience that will stay with you for a lifetime.
Road to Perdition is based on the graphic novel of the same name by Max Allan Collins. The story is set in 1931 and revolves around the character of Michael Sullivan a mob enforcer for John Rooney, an Irish American organized crime boss in Illinois during the Al Capone mob-rule era. Michael was orphaned as a child and raised by Rooney. He spent his life working for the crime boss, who sees him as a second son. Michael’s reputation as a no-nonsense, straight talking, man of few words (who gets the job done) precedes him. His devotion (and love) for John runs deep which help make him very good at his job. Michael is married with two sons, Michael Jr., the eldest and Peter.
The boys spend little time with their father and often speculate about exactly what he does for a living other than knowing that he goes on dangerous “missions” for Mr. Rooney. Michael Jr. can be impetuous and a little headstrong which leads him to stow away in the back the car one rainy night when his father goes on a mission with Connor Rooney, John’s son. Unfortunately Michael is witness to a violent and deadly exchange that ensues between his father, Connor and a group of men. His presence is discovered afterward by his father and Connor. This leads to tragic circumstances that will forever change Michael’s life but will allow him to spend the next six weeks getting to know and understand the father he never really knew.
Road to Perdition is one of my favorite films and has been since I first saw it back in 2002. I love the darkly rich and foreboding nature of the story which is supported by superlative visuals that drive its components. The methodical building of the relationship between Michael and his father unfolds before our eyes and proves very rewarding as we see the inherent complexities that can exist between a father and son. The film runs the gamut between suspense, drama, and action as it engages us with a character driven narrative which features a gritty portrayal of the ruthlessness of the gangster mentality, loss of innocence, and the endearing love (or lack of in the case of Connor and John) between a father and son that must endure despite inevitability.
Tom Hanks is cast against type in this role and once again proves that he is capable of making any character he portrays believable. It’s interesting to watch Michael Sullivan’s transformation from an emotionless “soldier” to a staunch protector that will stop at nothing to protect his son and ensure that he doesn’t follow in his footsteps. The remainder of the cast, including (the great) Paul Newman, Daniel Craig, Tyler Hoechlin, Stanley Tucci and Jude Law (in what I consider to be one of his finest performances) are equally worthy of praise. Conrad Hall’s award-winning cinematography is among his best work and adds a visually enticing element to the film that can’t be understated. Sam Mendes’ apt direction and a superbly paced script paint a wonderfully emotive picture that explores father-son relationships while depicting the ominous realm of depression era mobsters and the type of men that comprised its ranks. I have looked forward to its release in high definition on Blu-ray Disc and am thrilled to report that the results are excellent. See below.
The rating is for violence and language.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
Road to Perdition comes to Blu-ray Disc from Paramount featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 27 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 4.5 Mbps.
Having seen this film theatrically and numerous times on DVD I have a pretty good feel for it. This isn’t a bright or colorful film. The chromatic palette consists mainly of sepia and earth toned colors with the occasional interjection of primary colors that don’t offer much in the way of visual stimulation. This coupled with the prominent display of grain gives it a gritty texture and rougher visual style that works quite well in thematic tone and the depiction of the time period featured in the story. Resolution is excellent but the nature of the photography isn’t always lent to lucid definition and an infinite sense of depth. There are many instances where detail is clearly resolvable with discerning visual perspective and resolute clarity.
On the other hand there are times where delineation and sharpness is less tangibly defining. Close ups tend to be more consistent and offer plenty of appreciable refinement in the physical features and weave of the fabric in the period clothing worn by the cast. The film uses lots of low light interior and exterior scenes. The superb (and award-winning) cinematography by Conrad Hall uses a variety of lighting schemes and purposeful shadows. The perception of detail in backgrounds and scenes containing mixed light/dark elements can be scene dependent but this appears directly related to artistic choice and rarely has a deleterious effect. Contrast is stable over the course of the presentation and blacks, while not inky, have sufficient depth so that they don’t appear flat or washed out. I saw no signs of video noise/artifacts but did notice an occasional speckle on the print (unless you’re looking most probably wouldn’t notice).
This is a superlative audio presentation that features wide dynamic range built around a wonderfully balanced surround mix that sounds great. This isn’t an aggressive soundtrack however it offers an enriching listening experience. Clarity and detail are exemplary which reveal lots of subtle nuance in the recording. The mix of dialogue and music play an integral and central role however there are brief moments of bombast that allow this mix to flex its dynamic muscle. Listen in chapter 12 as the elevated train passes overhead and rumbles through the room. Bass isn’t pulse pounding but it definitively augments the richness and tangibility of gunfire fire as it resonates throughout the sound field with exacting authority. The sounds of falling rain or the open expanse of a crowded public venue envelop and wash over the listening position with stark realism. Dialogue is crystalline with excellent intonation and descriptive character. Thomas Newman’s beautifully crafted music is so much a part of the telling of the story. It sounds smooth, incredibly refined and airy with a deep, room filling quality that is supremely involving.
In comparing the Blu-ray to the DVD I found that this presentation surpasses it in every way. The increase in resolution is readily apparent and draws out more of the depth and delineation inherent in the original elements. This enhances the film’s many low level sequences making even subtle gradations within the images onscreen more appreciable. Looking at the final scene in the house on the beach (especially the wide angle shot of Michael kneeling next to his father) I found that the DVD appeared whitewashed with almost no visible gradients in the background. In high definition the elevated contrast in that scene appears stable without the blown out whites or loss of detail in the walls and centrally focused window. As for the lossy versus lossless audio quality I think that the differences are more subtle. The lossy surround mix is very good to begin with and the lossless presentation retains all of the original’s attributes while offering discernible improvements in dynamic range and the rendering of low level detail in the recording.
The bottom line is that this is unquestionably the best that Road to Perdition has looked or sounded on home video. I have to admit to being extremely impressed with the high quality of the DTS-HD Master Audio sound which I found elevated my enjoyment of this wonderful film.
- (HD) Sam Mendes feature introduction
- (HD) A cinematic life: The art and influence of Conrad Hall - 26 minute documentary
- The library: A further exploration of the world of Road to Perdition - An interactive exploration of the graphic novel and film adaptation
- Commentary by director Sam Mendes
- 11 deleted scenes
- The making of Road to Perdition - 25 minute featurette
- (HD) Theatrical trailer
Road to Perdition is an excellent dramatic film that runs the gamut between suspense, drama, and action as it engages us with a character driven narrative which features a gritty portrayal of the ruthlessness of the gangster mentality, loss of innocence, and the endearing and sometimes complex relationships that can exist between father and son. It is a personal favorite that comes to Blu-ray Disc from Paramount featuring high definition audio/video quality that transcends any previous home video release of the film plus adds new bonus material that includes a documentary on cinematographer Conrad Hall, and an interactive exploration of the graphic novel/film adaptation. The original director audio commentary, making of featurette, and deleted scenes, round out this above average set of supplements that make for interesting viewing. If like me, you enjoy Road to Perdition, this is a must have for your collection and comes highly recommended.
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews
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JVC DLA-RS20 1080p High Definition Front Projector (Calibrated by Jeff Meier)
Stewart Filmscreen - Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16x9 Screen
Anthem AVM50v THX Ultra 2 Preamp/Video Processor
Sherbourn Technologies - 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier
Oppo BDP-83 Universal disc/Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Toshiba HD-XA2 HD DVD Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Oppo 970HD universal disc DVD Player (480i HDMI)
Philips TSU9400 Pro Series Touch Panel Remote Control
Canton "Ergo" Series speakers
Axiom Audio QS8 Quadpolar speakers
SV Sound PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)
APC AV S15BLK Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Furman SPR-20i Stable Power Regulator
Wireworld, VizionWare, Audioquest, Better Cables, Best Deal Cables - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
Cool Components - CP-CP102 cooling package