Fortunately it looks as though the Road to Perdition sequel, Road to Purgatory, hasn't taken a side trip into development hell. Although talk of a Road to Perdition sequel goes back several years, writer Max Allan Collins tells MovieWeb it may now be right around the corner.
Collins wrote the graphic novel on which Road to Perdition was based and has since authored two text-only sequels, Road to Purgatory and Road to Paradise. Although the task of adapting Road to Perdition into a screenplay ultimately fell to David Self, Collins handled the script for Road to Purgatory himself.
When pressed for details Collins said:
Well, I can only tease, I'm afraid. We seem to be right on the brink, or maybe it's the precipice, I don't know (Laughs), of a deal being signed. Things have gotten very, very serious and I have, for years, held onto it as a project I would direct, because I have directed five independent films. It does look like, now, that I won't be directing, but it is my script. That's the most important thing to me, that the material be faithfully rendered. That isn't to say that you have to do it absolutely faithfully. There certainly are differences between my graphic novel and Road to Perdition, but the spirit of the story is there. Mendes really got it and understood it and, I think that, in some ways, enhanced it.
Although Collins' name has been removed from the list of contenders, there's no one else attached to direct at the moment. Sam Mendes certainly has an unexpected vacancy in his schedule thanks to the collapse of the latest James Bond movie. However, he's already looking to direct the film adaptation of another novel (On Chesil Beach) and beyond that there are dozens of other potential projects he's involved with (I'm still heartbroken we'll never get to see his version of Preacher). There's also the issue of whether or not Mendes would even be interested in a Road to Perdition sequel.
Road to Purgatory would pick up ten years after the events of Road to Perdition with Michael O' Sullivan Jr. (now called Michael Satariano) returning from World War II, infiltrating the Capone mob, and targeting the men responsible for his father's death. Naturally, Michael Sr. (played by Tom Hanks in Perdition) makes an appearance in the novel via flashbacks and several other familiar faces turn up as well. I feel pretty confident that Hanks could be persuaded to return - after all, he has no qualms about churning out more Da Vinci Code sequels.
I haven't seen Road to Perdition in several years and although it's not my favorite Mendes film, the Edward Hopper-inspired cinematography and incredible score by Thomas Newman are reason enough to check it out if you've never had the chance to. It's also a very different type of role for Hanks and he's surprisingly effective as a more sinister character. However, for me the real revelation in Road to Perdition was always Jude Law - he's jaw-droppingly awesome in what's undoubtedly the creepiest role on his resume.
I haven't had a chance to read either of Collins' followups but he's a talented writer whose work is astonishingly well-researched and descriptive without being tedious. My enthusiasm for Road to Purgatory would depend greatly on who winds up directing it. Mendes casts a pretty intimidating shadow and it would be easy to try and mimic the style of the first film while forgetting to dole out equal measures of substance.