Gino has reached the point of "murdering" cloth dummies, but his progress is interrupted by an unexpected visit from his older brother, Sal (Palminteri). Even a competent gangster might develop an inferiority complex around Sal, who effortlessly conveys a toe-curling menace, even — or especially — when chortling amiably at his own jokes.
It turns out Sal's visit isn't just brotherly: He has come to test Gino's commitment to the family business. The skillful performers make the ensuing rapid-fire plot machinations credible, but only barely: D'Aquila is a writer of such economy that he fits the makings of an entire cable TV season into an hour and change, and the developments feel hurried.
The tone is also a little wobbly. Although most of the action is played realistically, two sex scenes are conducted in silhouette behind a screen, a jarringly stagy choice that dissipates all tension.
The ending, though bold, is disappointing: There's the sense that D'Aquila wasn't quite sure what to do with his entertaining characters once he'd gotten them all onstage. His writing and performance make Gino, especially, a sympathetic and interesting antihero who may deserve a better story than he gets.