Pre-Pub Review

Find Me Guilty

MVD, 124 min., R, DVD: $19.99, Blu-ray: $29.99

Reviewer rating: 2.5/4

Sidney Lumet’s third courtroom drama packs something of a punch, but falls far short of his earlier films in the genre, 12 Angry Men and The Verdict. The fact-based story centers on the lengthy prosecution of two dozen members of a New Jersey mob family in 1987-88. The particular focus is on one of the defendants, Jackie DiNorscio, a low-ranking gangster accused of being involved in drug-pushing operations, who decided to represent himself after his cousin tried to kill him and then became the prosecution’s chief witness. DiNorscio claimed to be “a gagster, not a gangster,” and his courtroom behavior exasperated the prosecutors, judge, and even his mob cronies, who feared that his clownishness would doom any chance of acquittal, although it also earned him some fans, including one of the defense lawyers (Peter Dinklage). Find Me Guilty is built around an interesting story, and it is told here with a nice blend of dramatic and comic elements. Unfortunately, however, Jackie is played by Vin Diesel in an attempt to prove the actor’s thespian bona fides, and the role demands someone who can be simultaneously charismatic, funny and sympathetic—a challenge Diesel fails to meet. Coming from a filmmaker of Lumet’s reputation, the movie remains a close call, but because of the weakness in casting, it is a near-miss. Extras include a conversation with Lumet. A strong optional purchase. (F. Swietek)