Jackie DiNorscio (Vin Diesel) is awakened to a man holding a gun over him while he sleeps. He realizes it's his cousin, Tony Compagna (Raul Esparza), and tells him not to shoot because he loves him. Tony proceeds to put for rounds into Jackie anyway. He survives the shooting and refuses to tell the police who did it.
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He doesn't know it yet but he is about to go through the longest mafia related trial ever held.
The FBI has been after the Lucchese family for a long time and Jackie has been fingered several times in the process. He makes parole only to get caught again during a supposed set up drug deal. This time he goes down hard with a 30 year sentence. He isn't really too shook up as he has been no stranger to a jail cell. After a short time the repeat convict is brought to a plush office, offered wine, fed shrimp cocktail and offered a deal if he rolls. No way would he ever turn on his friends and tells prosecutor Sean Kierney (Linus Roache) to forget it. This angers Kierney so much that he has it in for Jackie from now until the end of time.
Jackie's efforts to protect are short lived as his dug abusing cousin Tony reappears. It seems that he is the prosecution's star witness in a 76 count indictment against 20 defendants, Jackie included. The charges are serious and many hire the best attorneys possible. Jackie refuses to rehire his former attorney because he was found guilty the last time. Much to the chagrin of others, he decides to defend himself. Even Judge Finestein (Ron Silver) advises against it. Jackie insists that he will do fine and it's what he wants to do.
The attorneys and well as their clients are petrified at first. They think that the uneducated man will say something incriminating and take everyone down with him. One of the most seriously accused, Nick Calabrese (Alex Rocco), tells his attorney to separate from the trial if Jackie screws up. There are many tense moments at first. Jackie only has a 6th grade education and talks in some very crude street language. He is also a bit comical in his basic mannerisms. The judge warns him several times, eventually finds him in contempt and warns him that he will be removed if it does not stop.
Jackie does comply and begins to behave himself in a more appropriate manner. He shows a more humorous side and it is obvious that the jury is beginning to actually like him. He is more like the poor underdog with integrity than a vicious mob criminal. This angers the prosecution once again and another campaign is began to persecute Jackie. His easy chair is taken out of his prison cell. This is the only way he can sleep and Keirney is hoping this will impair Jackie at the trial. Keirney even goes so far as to have Jackie beat up by the prison guards. No matter to Jackie, he still does not rat anyone out. He just proceeds through the next phase of questioning bruised and battered. He does a great job of it too as he brings up many things no one thought to ask. His unique street perspective may actually be a benefit. The attorneys and eventually the defendants all turn in his favor. All except Nick who holds his threatening attitude against Jackie. Jackie really isn't too worried about all that. He is more worried about the opinion of the jury.
A hush falls over the crowd as cousin Tony takes the stand. Everyone is sure that Jackie will explode during questioning. Jackie proved them wrong as he is more hurt by Tony than angered. He does get to the bottom of the story that Tony was offered anything, including drugs, to testify. He eventually just turns his back on his cousin and walks away never to speak to Tony again. A stir begins again as the trance of the conversation is broken.
This also marks the moment where all witnesses have been called and closing statements must be said. Jackie is a little nervous at first but a phone call from attorney Ben Klandis (Peter Dinklage) gives him the vote of confidence he needs. Jackie begins to read from notes he prepared but then tells the jury he is going to live up to his original promise. The promise which he gave during opening statements was that he would speak from the heart. Jackie doe it to the best of his ability and even shows a photo of him with some of the other defendants as children. He tells that they are conspiring to buy ice cream outside of an ice cream parlor in hopes it will soften the hearts of those who sit in judgment.
All being said, the jury must begin deliberations. The attorneys retire as they are sure that this will be a lengthy time of waiting. How wrong they are as it takes just seventeen hours for the jury to come to a verdict. Everyone rushes back , sitting breathlessly as Judge Finestein asks, “Madame Forman, has the jury reached a verdict”?
The review of this Movie prepared by Talea