Lumet orchestrates the machinations with the confidence of a master, but even he cannot quite manage to sustain the interest for the protracted arguments to run their course. The main defendant, Giaocomo “Jackie Dee” DiNorscio, is played by Vin Diesel in a showy performance that begins to grate after awhile. After a dispute he decides to be his own attorney, giving Diesel the chance to run the gamut of jokes, innuendos and verbal attacks on anyone who strays in to his field of vision as he sets out to prove he's “not a gangster but a gagster.” Among his sparring partners is Linus Roache as Sean Kierney, the dour-faced federal prosecutor, and judge Finestein (Ron Silver) whose patience is tested to the limit by the unconventional circus being played out before him. Annabella Sciorra appears briefly but effectively as Dee's wife.
The Diesel fan club certainly get their dollars' worth of the star strutting his stuff while lovers of legal tussles will warm to the cut and thrust. Others may find it overstays its welcome by about 30 minutes.
Cast: Vin Diesel, Linus Roache, Ron Silver, Alex Rocco, Annabella Sciorra and Peter Dinklage
Director: Sidney Lumet
Screenwriters: Sidney Lumet and T.J. Mancinci & Robert J. McCrea
Producers: T.J. Mancini, Bob Yari, Robert Greenhut, Bob DeBrino and George “Zakk” Vitetzakis
Rating: R for strong language and some violence
Running time: 123 min.
Release date: March 17, 2006