The late and much lamented Sidney Lumet and marble-mouthed Vin Diesel may seem odd bedfellows, and let’s face it – for this 2006 late entry in the director’s loooong career, they were. It’s as if David Lynch teamed up with Arnie, or Michael Haneke with Michael Cera (and we’re not sure which we want to see more).
What happiness to report that this collaboration is one of the undiscovered treats of recent years, its disastrous takings in the US meaning it is only finding a release here now, seven years later.
Diesel is real-life mobster ‘Fat Jack’ DiNorsico, already serving a 30-year stretch when he becomes implicated in one of the biggest mafia trials in US history. Brazenly, he decides to defend himself, rather than take any of the prosecution’s numerous offers of a reduced sentence if he turns.
The gregarious Jackie then sets about charming the court and generally mucking around, much to the frustration of other gangsters and lawyers alike.
It’s not a complicated premise, and is primarily a vehicle for Diesel to recite actual court transcripts, but it’s visible that he’s relishing the chance to actually act. Fans of Peter Dinklage will also relish his turn as a lawyer who, regardless of his height, is always the big man in any room.
Unfortunately, FMG could hardly have been a bigger financial disaster – maybe Diesel not fighting anyone was a stretch for Joe Idaho, and the film doesn’t really seem aware that many of its cuddliest characters are murderers and extortionists.
Whatever the reason, a chided Diesel went scuttling back to the F&F franchise, where he doesn’t get a chance to flex those acting muscles. And that’s criminal.
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