It was bound to happen sooner or later. Dustin Hoffman was going to fall into the pseudo-action trap that lurks in waiting for all serious dramatic actors.Accosted by his spooky brother, played with gusto by Roy Scheider, Hoffman becomes embroiled in a plot involving Nazis, diamonds, and a winding, disjointed narrative.
Unfortunately for Dustin, not only does he have to deal with murderous National Socialists and missing precious stones, he also has to try and figure out just what the hell this film is all about. And I am afraid I can be of just as much help to him as a viewer as the script was to him as an actor. Which is to say, less than zero.
Hoffman runs marathons. Great. Does this figure into the plot of the film? Not really, but it makes a great title. Lawrence Olivier plays a Nazi/Dentist (insert requisite drill joke here) who at one point tortures our protagonist in a tedious, predictable manner. I know I am going to catch some flack for that, but honestly, that scene did nothing for me. In fact, the only real glimmer of interesting film making I could take with me from this movie was when the nefarious Nazi stumbles in the sewer and spills his diamonds all over the metallic grating that served as a floor. A cascade of white reflected light taunts both the villain and the hero. After this, you might as well stop watching.
Hoffman bravely continues to lurch from scene to scene, much like a passenger on the deck of a luxury liner caught in rough seas. It's a valiant attempt at cohesiveness, but in the end, bodies to the left, bodies to the right, Dustin's character is just as confused as he was when he started the movie. And so am I.A terrible way to pass 125 minutes. Characters with no motivation other than their own destruction, meaningless violence and convoluted plot (this happens and then THIS happens and then THIS HAPPENS) made me want to drill out my own teeth (hahahahahaha)