film review ..: ...Find Me Guilty... of Being Horrendous
Vin Diesel...s Awful Attempt to be Both Funny and Serious
By Yong-yi Zhu
Find Me Guilty
Directed by Sidney Lumet
Written by Sidney Lumet and T. J. Mancini
Starring Vin Diesel
Interested in seeing a grown man waltz into court and throw a temper tantrum? Want to view an immature actor attempting to grow up through his “serious” performance? Planning on throwing ten dollars down the drain? Well, then — “Find Me Guilty” should be the perfect piece of trash for you. This film tries to force Vin Diesel into a role that does not suit him at all, while telling a story that is only mildly interesting.
Based on the true story of an organized crime family’s trial, with twenty men who’ve managed to rack up over seventy charges, the movie focuses on one of the men, Jackie DiNorscio (Diesel). He decides to defend himself instead of hiring a lawyer, turning this serious matter into a farce.
DiNorscio is a good man trapped in a bad environment. Already convicted for a different crime, he was in the midst of serving his thirty-year sentence when this second trial hit. If he confesses, a beneficial deal awaits, but out of loyalty to his family DiNorscio ignores the offer and proceeds with the trial. However, the mob family doesn’t even like him, and sees him as a liability because of his erratic behavior in court. Admittedly, DiNorscio gets himself into quite a sticky situation, and Lumet’s film first depicts this story, and then shows how DiNorscio unravels himself from the mess.
The problem is that the movie tries to both be a drama and a comedy, and ends up failing at both. The writers attempt to be funny by having Diesel tell jokes and introducing unbelievable characters, such as a midget lawyer and an equally short-statured sick man. Try as they may, the writers manage to fail in every respect with trying to make this film funny.
With the drama aspect, even though “Find Me Guilty” is based on a true story, the unrealistic characters and choppy plot make it hard for the audience to believe that. A group of high school students could have learned enough acting skills over the course of a weekend to be in this film. The producers should have realized that it is difficult to create twenty different mob personalities on screen. Instead of picking a few, the film tries to showcase all of them.
Diesel’s performance is horrendous. DiNorscio’s manner and mental capacity are as sophisticated as a five-year-old’s, yet he tries to play a man defending himself in a court of law. He simply stands up, rattles off a few jokes, and calls it his defense. His demeanor outside of the courtroom is troublesome too — he childishly wants to gain acceptance into this mob, despite clear signs that they simply do not want him. His immaturity can’t even be masked by the wonderful makeup that is supposed to make Diesel look twenty years older.
Linus Roache, as the district attorney, is the only redeeming factor in the entire film — he portrays an impassioned lawyer dying to win an important case to perfection. Unfortunately, that’s just not enough to save this film from being straight up terrible.