Sunday, May 07, 2006

Find Me Guilty

I have them to thank for the hairdo

We're all familiar with Vin Diesel being the new action hero, with his buffed muscular body, bald pate, gruff voice and his high octane movies like Fast and the Furious and xXx. He took a different path into comedy with The Pacifier, and now, into drama with Find Me Guilty. How did he fair?

Pretty good, in spite of the focus being on his new look hairdo and belly (ok, so it's prosthetics and makeup assisted). Playing a real life mobster Jack DiNorscio, and the true story of his defense of himself in court without a lawyer, in an extremely long trial spanning 21 months, where it's the US Government versus the Lucchese crime family.

The movie started off promisingly with a tense scene classic of any mafia movies, that of a hit job, though it's laced with some unexpected humour. Alas, just as you thought the movie will go uphill from then on, it actually stalled and cruised along, before tapering from the halfway mark until the end.

Diesel as DiNorscio deftly balanced dramatics with flair for comedy, labelling himself as a "gagster" rather than a "gangster", inevitably forming a bond with the jurors of the case, getting into the skin of the prosecutors and having a hard time convincing his fellow chums that his loyalties still lie with the family, that he'll never rat them out or knowingly jeopardize their chances in court. However, amongst his buddies, he fared the worst, having to defend himself in court and go home to his jail cell, where he's still serving time. It's a bit like doing your all for your family, but yet experiencing a non-reciprocal feeling from them.

You probably won't care much for the other characters, consisting of many minor role hoodlums and their numerous legal representatives. Perhaps the only other role having prominence is Ron Silver's Judge Finestein, who has to precede over this gruelling cast and at the same time reining in DiNorscio's antics.

Although this movie boasts the using of actual court transcripts for its dialogue, there are not enough compelling arguments, objections, challenges and square offs. Rather, the movie zooms by quite quickly to the basic significant courtroom sessions - it's obvious you can't cover 21 months worth of material in 2 hours.

So for those eager to watch top-notch courtroom drama, you might go away a little disappointed, but if you buy into Vin Diesel's charm, and of course for Vin Diesel fans, you might go away enjoying every moment of his screen presence.

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