Find Me Guilty (Freestyle Releasing, R)

Diesel’s ability to carry a dialogue-heavy movie was not nearly as impressive as his ability to blow things up.

 

Find Me Guilty, Vin Diesel’s latest movie, is more of a history lesson than anything else. The story revolves around the 1987 trial of the Lucchesi crime family. When wiseguy Jack DiNorscio (Diesel) is picked up for drug trafficking, he receives a jail sentence of 30 years. While in jail, DiNorscio is approached by prosecutor Sean Kierney (Linus Roache), who proposes a way for DiNorscio to reduce his sentence: All DiNorscio has to do is rat on his crime family and he will be sprung.

This is where the bulk of the story develops and the audience learns that DiNorscio’s whole crime family will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Kierney goes on a rant about how all of DiNorscio’s family will be dragged into court and since they already have one stool pigeon, the whole family will go to jail.

This is also the point at which we learn that DiNorscio, in true mob family fashion, would rather eat his own tongue than use it to rat on his friends. The ensuing court battle becomes complicated when DiNorscio decides to become his own lawyer. This snafu could affect the whole family, seeing how they will all receive the same verdict. DiNorscio’s antics in the courtroom are the main focus of the film, rather than the actual crimes committed. His ability to come off as a loveable mobster takes center stage as he woos the jury and rips apart the witnesses.

The one thing I got from this movie is that Diesel is built for action movies. His ability to carry a dialogue-heavy movie was not nearly as impressive as his ability to blow things up. His portrayal of the lovable mobster—he refers to himself as a “gagster,” not a gangster—was out of his reach. Wearing a ridiculous hairpiece and brandishing a stereotypical Italian accent, Diesel was just a tad too young for this role.

Thankfully, there were some fantastic supporting roles spread throughout the movie. Peter Dinklage was engaging in his role as Ben Klandis; Ron Silver was enjoyable as the presiding judge; and Annabella Sciorra was electric as DiNorscio’s wife.

Other than Diesel’s lackluster performance, I also took issue with director Sidney Lumet’s pacing. Before I get Lumet’s legion of diehard fans angry, please know I am a fan of Lumet. I loved Serpico, Murder on the Orient Express, and Deathtrap. However, this movie was not one of my favorite Lumet works. There was a myriad of scenes that seemed odd choices for making the final cut. Some—a fart joke, an extended ambulance scene, and a scene discussing peanut butter—all seem nonsensical and out of place.

With my love for all things Sopranos, I was expecting similar, action-packed dialogue and drama, but I ended up with an experience more akin to My Cousin Vinny.

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