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Find Me Guilty

Sometimes the Best Defense is a Little Offensive

Vin Diesel is most commonly associated with meat headed actions flicks such as The Fast and the Furious and XXX. While many directors have lauded his talent, there have been few Diesel flicks that have shed any light on this so called talent (need I mention The Pacifier?). Fortunately for Diesel, Find Me Guilty fell into his lap and Vin manages to put forth what is undoubtedly his best performance in years.

Diesel plays the "gagster, not gangster" Jack Dinorscio. Dinorscio was a high ranking member or the infamous Lucchese crime family. Find Me Guilty kicks things off with over 20 members of the family (including Jack) being hauled into court for a historical trial including 76 different charges. Offered an opportunity to abbreviate his sentence if he rats on his friends, Jack eschews this opportunity and decides to represent himself in the case.

Needless to say, Dinorscio is not a seasoned litigator. But, Jack's ignorance and irreverence somehow manages to endear him to the jury who ends up seeing him as more of an entertainer than a thug. Naturally, Dinorscio's nemesis is a high powered District Attorney who has never known defeat. Let the festivities commence.

Diesel truly shines as the freewheeling and fearless Dinorscio. Far from his thick skulled action hero persona, Diesel brings a complexity and a depth to Dinorscio. While unquestionably a whoremonger and a drug dealer (among other things), Dinorscio is not Machiavellian. He displays a loyalty to his friends/family that is truly baffling, but ultimately makes him at least vaguely redeeming.

Above and beyond Dinorscio's loyalty to his friends/family, Jack is a clown. He enjoys entertaining people; at his expense if necessary. Regardless of what you may think about his day job, Dinorscio is the kind of guy you could have a great time with over a few drinks. Diesel brings Dinorscio's entertaining personality to life with zeal.

Find Me Guilty also includes a great performance from Peter Dinklage as attorney Ben Klandis. Dinklage brings an earnest weariness to his performance as the defending attorney for the Lucchese family. This fatigue becomes more and more apparent as the trial drags on for 21 months. Klandis often plays a sympathetic ear to the embattled Dinorscio who often finds himself at odds with the judge presiding over the trial and his fellow mobsters.

A compelling story and excellent cast is enhanced by the experienced and able hand of uber-talented director, Sidney Lumet (12 Angry Men, Running on Empty). With decades of experience and multiple Oscar nominations in hand, Lumet skillfully directs a challenging film that is set primarily in the confines of a courtroom. The end result is a film that is guilty of entertaining and engaging.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars