Picks and Pans Review: Find Me Guilty

updated 03/27/2006 at 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/27/2006 01:00AM

Vin Diesel, Linus Roache

DRAMA

Tony Soprano isn't the only New Jersey mobster with a sense of humor and a fierce pride. Meet Giacomo DiNorscio (Diesel), known as "Jackie Dee" to both his fellow gangsters and the U.S. prosecutors determined to take him down. Find Me Guilty, based on actual transcripts from the longest criminal trial ever (21 months during 1987-88), shows how Jackie, an already convicted felon, fared when he opted to act as his own lawyer. His line of defense: "I'm no gangster, I'm a gagster."

While it's amusing to watch the often likable Jackie charm the jurors with his comedy routines and drive the district attorney (Roache) nuts, Guilty never pretends that he isn't a scary guy. Which is why the jury's final verdict, which affects not just Jackie but 19 other members of the Lucchese family being tried along with him, is all the more shocking. Veteran director Sidney Lumet (Critical Care) coaxes a canny performance out of Diesel, who shows more acting muscle here than he ever did in XXX or The Pacifier. And Annabella Sciorra has a brief but scorching cameo as Jackie's bitter ex. (R)

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