Road To Perdition Starring: Tom Hanks, Paul Newman, Jude Law, Stanley Tucci Director: Sam Mendes The film: You don't get a better start to a film career than the one enjoyed by English director Sam Mendes. His first cab off the rank, 1999's American Beauty, won Oscars for best picture, best director and best actor (for Kevin Spacey). How's that for starters? For this, his second offering, the theatre-trained Mendes chose an atmospheric tale of mob life in Depression-era America. And the expectations were high. It boasts an Oscar-laden cast - led by Hollywood Everyman Tom Hanks and cagey veteran Paul Newman (right) - and cinematography from the legendary Conrad Hall, who won his first Oscar for Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid in 1969. Hall was awarded his second for this effort and the deep, dark mood his work sets goes a long way towards ensuring the film's success. Hanks plays marvellously against type - all furrowed brow and sideways glances - as hitman Michael Sullivan, the hunter who eventually becomes the hunted. Darker still is the normally pretty-boy Jude Law, grubbed-up to maximum effect as a fellow hitman on Sullivan's tail. Newman is, well, Newman. And he casts a pretty big shadow over everyone else in every scene he graces. Mendes' palette consists of shades of grey. There are no easy answers for any of his characters as they fight for survival and for some sort of reason. And seen mainly through the eyes of Sullivan's young son Michael Jnr (Tyler Hoechlin), it's a pretty grim view. But it's also hard to stop watching. The extras: Mendes proves a most worthy commentator - as he does on the DVD of American Beauty - despite the drifts into hyperbole. Deleted scenes (with commentary) and a 'making of' documentary round out the package. The verdict: Maybe not as deep and meaningful as it appears on first viewing, this is still impressive and thoughtful cinema.