Handy Barker’s review published on Letterboxd:
Though this film has Scorsese, Paul Newman, and a very young Tom Cruise, to me, it's most memorable for what it lacks: the young irresistible Paul Newman, the slightly older experienced Tom Cruise who knew more than just mugging for the camera in that pompadour, and the sense or noir doom that the original "the Hustler" had and which Scorsese would return to many times again, especially in "Goodfellas" and "the Departed".
What it adds in spades is Mary Elizabeth Mastroantonio, who not only isn't just the hustler's side piece, but is a full partner in the caper, even to the point of fondling geezer Paul Newman while the kid is shooting pool.
(That must've been a kick to young Mary Elizabeth to be able to caress Paul Newman on screen since she probably had a poster of him on her wall as a girl in Chicago)
But the dread and danger of "The Hustler" isn't here: it's just a training film like Paul Newman is Mr. Miyagi and Tom Cruise is only shooting pool for the state title.