Sometimes you pave a path of repercussions from which there can be no redemption.
The film is based on the graphic novel Road to Perdition (1998) by mystery writer Max Allan Collins and artist Richard Piers Rayner. Underneath the '30s gangster milieu, the story was an homage to the manga series and films of "Lone Wolf and Cub". The critical acclaim promped Collins to expand on the story with two novels and three graphic novel sequels.
Steven Spielberg relayed the graphic novel to director Sam Mendes (American Beauty, Skyfall). Mendes was struck by the image-driven aspect of it, identifying its feel with Kurosawa rather than Coppola, and stripped everything back, making spaces wide, dialogue sparse, backstory vague, and judgements ambivalent. Tom Hanks goes against type as an assassin reaping what he sowed, and Paul Newman is naturally a master class with his supple calm and cold menace.
The film was shot by Conrad Hall, one of the best cinematographers who ever worked. With Mendes, he crafted an essence poem, where light, distance, color, and weather convey a journey through a gulf of darkness.