Tom Hanks as a gangster? I admit, I really didn't have much faith in this working and so I put this film off for a long time. I finally decided to give it a go after picking it up used a while back. Surprising Tom Hanks is solid as a gangster that doesn't really admire his profession. Obviously once poor in a time where they were many poor people. After all, the film is set in the depression era 1930's. The setting beautifully reflects that. Even if you're letdown by the fact that this isn't your typical shoot'em up tough guy gangster flick you have to be in awe of the look that that Choreographer Conrad L. Hall and the set designers have created.
Anyway, the film is about as straight-forward as you can get. This film isn't about macho violence. No... It's about the relationship of fathers and sons in a rough time. We must we remember that while Micheal Sullivan (Tom Hanks) is not Mr. Rooney's (Paul Newman) son, but he is generally favored by Mr. Rooney over his real son Conner (Daniel Craig). The reason is that Rooney's son is immature and Conner pretty much see's violence and murder as the absolute solution to any difficult circumstance.
We learn that Sullivan wants to keep his family in the dark about his true profession. Even though in those times it was less proper for the wife to pry into her husbands line of work. That doesn't stop oldest son Mike from being curious. One night Mike holds in the back seat of the car in hopes to discover what father does with his life. Needless to say, Mike gets a rude awakening and his discovers set off a chain of reactions that leaves the him and his father going across the country seeking revenge with or without the help of anyone else.
At times the film feels lacking in emotion despite of a somewhat sentimental score. It's not that it feels empty, but Sam clearly didn't want a sentimental film and I think the script is good enough that this will not be a huge problem for most. I still found the ability to care about this father and son. And themes work so well here. The film is not about an elaborate plot, but it's about how a father's actions can effects those around him. Especially his children.
Never worry, the film does have some shootouts and action. Jude Law is terrific as the hired hitman out to end Michael's road to revenge. I would say it's the best performance in the film even though I enjoyed Daniel Craig's sleazy scumbag character just as much. It might not make my top 20 list of the best films from the last decade, but it's an enjoyable film with great period detail, action and good performances that are sure to stick with you after watching.