Published Sep 22, 2009Adapted from Cormac McCarthy's Pulitzer-winner 2006 novel, The Road takes place after the world has suffered what appears to be the fallout of nuclear war. The vast majority of humanity has been killed, leaving only scattered stragglers of various malevolence.
An unnamed man (Viggo Mortensen) and his son (Kodi Smit-McKee) travel along a southbound trail in the United States to avoid another impending nuclear winter, while searching for food, shelter and fellow survivors. With an extremely limited number of bullets in their pistol (two, then one) and rapidly depleting food and water, the two experience a bonding usually only reserved for rained-out camping trips, only multiplied by about a million in intensity and misery.
Viggo Mortensen is perfectly cast, with his burning blue eyes cutting through thick layers of prosthetic wrinkles and various shades of ash and filth, and Smit-McKee is the ghostly embodiment of the time-trapped boy, aged from fallout yet still young with naivety.
Various re-shoots and additional edits supposedly were undertaken to help finesse the story, and the book's action has been rearranged and shortened. Some scenes have been strengthened from the alterations; the house of cannibals the characters encounter is chillingly brought to life, building to an even more intense climax than the relatively brief sequence from the novel. However, other elements go to waste, particularly Robert Duvall's unrecognizable cameo.
As opposed to 2007's No Country for Old Men, where the Coen brothers used McCarthy's sparse prose to build unbearable tension, The Road feels less intense than the sum of its parts, making even the survival of good during the end of the world seem like just another action adventure film. (Alliance)