With a stellar cast and Oscar-winning Kramer Vs Kramer director Robert Benton at the helm this should have been a film to rival Goodfellas, but some how it's not. Somewhere along the line, and despite vibrant performances from Bruce Willis, Nicole Kidman and the beautifully cold Steve Buscemi the interest in the film wanes.
It pains me to say it, but I think this is due to the lead performance from Dustin Hoffman. He is uncomfortable in his role as the supposedly enigmatic mobster; he is anything but intimidating and less than interesting. As I said it pains me to say it as I really do love Hoffman in many of his other roles but I think he has tried to reach beyond his abilities as an actor with this character. If only the casting between Bruce Willis and Hoffman was swapped, I think this film would have been something to write home about.
I feel it is slightly unfair to rest the complete fault of this film on Hoffman when there are a few other problems, for a start the co- star, Loren Dean is unable to make the rather weak title character of Billy sympathetic or engaging. The editing leaves a lot to be desired as well, with heated moments often cut away from leaving dramatic scenes diffused.
On paper this should have been an amazing gangster film, literally one of the best, but it falls short in all of its key areas. If the character casting was reshuffled to play to the actors strengths and the editing was sorted out to make the story more fluid and dramatic this could have been so good, but the way it shuns all of its potential just makes this film sorely disappointing.