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Find Me Guilty

MVD Entertainment Group // R // September 17, 2019
List Price: $19.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Tyler Foster | posted March 12, 2020 | E-mail the Author
Find Me Guilty is a hell of a cultural artifact. Legendary director Sidney Lumet, working with a meathead movie star like Vin Diesel (who I, a Fast & Furious devotee, genuinely enjoy!), giving the Hollywood treatment to the real-life story of Jackie DiNorscio, who decided to defend himself in the high-profile RICO court case against the Lucchese crime family. In 2006, when the movie was released, it's easier to see it as a goofy comedy. Watching it now, it still largely works, but the sensation is much different.

On one hand, it's probably hack to say that DiNorscio, who is upfront about his limited education and chooses to win the jury over using charm instead, feels like some sort of echo of Trump. Then again, the comparison is a little harder to avoid when archive footage of Rudy Giuliani appears on-screen at the beginning of the film, speaking in his capacity as an employee of the US Attorney's Office in the Southern District of New York. To be fair, it's not that the movie conjures up much thought of real-world 2020 politics, it's more that it makes you wonder how hard you should be rooting for DiNorscio to pull his case off.

As far as the film goes, Lumet makes it easy. Diesel may not have an excess of range, but he can be very charming, and Find Me Guilty offers him far more opportunities to show off his nerdy goofball side (he's a hardcore D&D player!) than his franchise films tend to, flashing his giant grin all over the courtroom. He also digs a little deeper than normal, finding some real emotion in a pivotal courtroom scene with his cousin on the witness stand. Another scene, where DiNorscio receives some tragic news, is played with Diesel obscuring his face with his hand, an interesting flourish from Lumet.

The film also stacks the sympathy deck by pitting DiNorscio against a particularly entertaining villain, federal prosecutor Sean Kierney, played with seething contempt by Linus Roache, and an extremely charismatic supporter, fellow defense attorney Ben Klandis, played wunderfully by Peter Dinklage. Kierney is so smarmy in his self-righteousness, so filled with delicious arrogance, that every one of Jackie's idiot savant legal maneuvers is teed up perfectly, while Dinklage injects so much sincerity into his hestitation over Jackie's ability to swing the jury that it's twice as satisfying when he can't help but call Jackie just to see how he's doing the night before Jackie's closing statement.

To Lumet's credit, he never seems to shy away from the fact that DiNorscio was indeed a gangster, showing the coke bust that gets him in prison the first time, and allowing for some of DiNorscio's anger to peek through when Kierney riles him up. There's even a rant by Kierney, which might be an attempt to speak directly to the fact that the moves DiNorscio puts on the jury are less about the facts and more about him selling them on his larger-than-life personality. Yet, much like DiNorscio himself, Find Me Guilty's ability to please a crowd ends up seeming more important than its ability to examine morality.

The Blu-ray
Find Me Guilty returns to Blu-ray courtesy of MVD, through their bargain Marquee Collection line. I had actually forgotten that this is not the film's Blu-ray debut; it was previously released by its original studio, 20th Century Fox back in 2012. That edition had a weirdly moody cover, but this one hews closer to the Fox DVD release, with a happy-looking Diesel sitting in his jail cell, surrounded by photos of various characters from the film. The one-disc release comes in a Vortex Blu-ray case, and there is no insert.

The Video and Audio
The 1.78:1 1080p AVC video presentation on this disc is mostly decent, offering bright, nicely saturated looking colors, and a clean, digital-looking clarity. Occasionally, details look a little soft (namely, the textures of the suits), and there's a brief moment during one of Roache's courtroom scenes where the highlights look a little blown out, but it's hard to distinguish what quirks might be the Blu-ray transfer and what's inherited from the original image.

The sound will probably be a bit more disappointing to viewers, with MVD offering a lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 surround track instead of the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track that was found on the original 20th Century Fox Blu-ray. Of course, Find Me Guilty isn't exactly an aural experience, with the film being almost exclusively dialogue, with only a couple of songs and a bit of score to liven things up. English and Spanish subtitles are also included, but the English subtitles are somewhat strange, rife with...not spelling errors, exactly (although there are a couple), but more like the kind of errors that would occur if someone were attempting to visually replicate the words or characters without understanding them (for instance, "10" is offered up with the letter O instead of a 0).

The Extras
There is one brief video extra, carried over from the 20th Century Fox DVD and Blu-ray releases: "A Conversation With Director Sidney Lumet" (4:43). It's not really a conversation, just pieces of EPK footage in which he briefly speaks on different subjects. For whatever reason, this chunk of video that doesn't even run five minutes is divided into nine segments, with a "Play All" option.

An original theatrical trailer and 3 TV spots are also included.

Find Me Guilty is charming, even when you know it probably shouldn't be. On the other hand, this MVD Blu-ray is more of a mixed bag. The 20th Century Fox Blu-ray is out of print, but the fact that the audio has taken a downgrade does mean this one's the slightly inferior edition. Rent it.

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