Of course, Gray never approaches Dostoyevsky's depth. Little Odessa is Crime and Punishment with 500 pages cut: all that's left is a skeletal plot. Joshua says, "I don't wanna talk anymore" before any real conversation about his crimes even begins. When the characters do speak, they tend to belabor the obvious: "I don't need a gun to be a man." "I know you can change." "I'm sorry I hit you, but you're always running away." (Irony!)
Solid little film buoyed by strong performances... Remarkably (and admirably) restrained for a film about a hit man; this is the sort of low-key filmmaking that I almost always find absorbing, provided the script and the acting are up to snuff. Gray made terrific use of the infamous New York blizzard of 1993--his Brighton Beach looks like Siberia. Not as flashy a debut as those of Tarantino and Rodriguez, but quietly impressive in a way that suggests a potential first-rate director.
An impressive if uneven first feature (1994), strong on atmospherics and weak on certain family links and ethnic details, by young New York writer-director James Gray... Up to a point, this is yet another crime picture; beyond that point are some style and feeling that make you remember it longer than most of the others.