year: 2002 rating: **

At the very end, the 12-year old son of a hit man, who had spent six weeks on the road with his father, on the run, narrates that he lived a lifetime on that particular journey. And while it feels a lifetime length-wise, hardly anything really happens to make the viewer agree that it was quite a ride. But that's not without some anticipation along the way. Like Hanks' Michael Sullivan, a former "enforcer" for Paul Newman's 1930's-era gangster chief John Rooney, having to rob a string of banks and to teach his son to be a getaway driver in the process. But what follows is a quick, much-too-easily-pulled-off montage. If this were made twenty-years earlier, those scores would have to provide thrills, action, suspense, but here it's superfluous filler. Only Jude Law as a menacing, photo-snapping creep on Hanks' trail is memorable... and we're simply supposed to hate him for wanting to kill the endearing mainstream star who always wins.  

Meanwhile, unlike its obvious cinematic muse, MILLER'S CROSSING, the mob boss and his supposed best friend/hit man never seem all that close to begin with, unlike Albert Finney and Gabriel Byrne, who are like inseparable father and son. One scene where Newman and Hanks play the same song on the same piano may as well have been danced on a giant floorboard-keyboard and their friendship would have felt more, well... BIG or something... so that the inevitable betrayal (involving Newman's trigger-happy son, a pre-Bond Daniel Craig) would actually mean something when things turn sour. But all there is is the praised dark-room GODFATHER style cinematography, but set in the rain-soaked East Coast Great Depression: For that, just watch MILLER'S CROSSING and it's all there... With something actually inside above and beyond this coming-of-age, violent revenge picture that isn't innocent/moving enough or intense/thrilling enough to successfully blend both. 

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