Though it tries to excuse its own shortcomings by positioning itself as a fairly faithful re-creation of the longest criminal trial in American history, claims to factual accuracy can’t make up for the bald-faced fact that there’s not enough story and nowhere near enough passion to sustain two-plus hours of courtroom proceedings. Limiting itself to the shenanigans of Jackie DiNorscio — who infamously represented himself when he and 19 other members of the Lucchese mob organization were tried on 76 counts over 21 months in 1987-8 — the film, the latest from 82-year-old Sidney Lumet, tries the audience’s patience with endlessly repetitive courtroom showboating by DiNorscio (who called himself a “gagster,” not a gangster) while never genuinely illuminating what it was about the man that was supposedly so magentic that he could charm the jury like we’re told he did. We’re meant to find him charming, but he’s merely thuggish — Vin Diesel (The Pacifier) doesn’t distinguish himself, though he clearly aches to, and the film comes dangerously close to romanticizing organized crime. (Comparisons with The Sopranos will be inevitable, and unwarranted.) Alas, even stellar supporting performances by the astonishingly good Peter Dinklage (The Station Agent) as one of the mob lawyers and a slow-boil Linus Roache (Batman Begins) as the New Jersey assistant district attorney can’t save this from feeling, like, well, jury duty.
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