- Designated Hero: Jackie DiNorscio. Though based on actual events and people, the movie, rather than show an honest portrayal of the gangster trial the film is based on, goes out if its way to present Jackie (and by extension, his fellow gangsters) as victims of oppression because the government obviously hates everyone whose name ends in a vowel (something that actual gangsters fervently believe). Despite clearly being a remorseless sociopath who expertly manipulates the jury into making the gangsters look innocent, he never actually offers up any evidence that they are innocent other than....they sometimes tip people whom they see everyday. He's racist, insensitive, misogynistic, loves indulging in Logical Fallacies while crying foul whenever far better evidence is used against him, and despite the other gangsters wanting nothing to do with him, he still somehow manages to get them all to come around. His rival, D.A. Sean Kierney, is completely accurate in his assessment of why Jackie and his associates are horrible people, and the movie completely glosses over this with borderline straw arguments. In the end, Jackie pulls a Karma Houdini, and we're expected to cheer on the fact that the gangsters were acquitted, despite them all clearly being assholes who deserve no sympathy. What makes it worse is that this trope could've been avoided completely if the film had just bothered being objective in its views rather than glamorize it to such absurd amounts.
- Designated Villain: The New York district attorney Sean Kierney. Throughout the film, Kierney is the rival to Designated Hero Jackie DiNorscio. Despite coming off as something of a Jerkass, at no point in the film is Kierney wrong about his reasons as to why Jackie and his associates deserve to be convicted. However, the film goes out of its way to portray Jackie as the blameless hero (who at best will try to explain his flaws with halfassed reasoning) and Kierney is presented as a crusading zealot out to enforce the claimed "government oppression" of Italian-Americans. He ends up being a borderline Straw Character for how easily Jackie outmaneuvers him. Granted, this was based on historical events, but even still, the movie is clearly not on his side when he's one of the few characters in the movies who's simply looking for justice.
- He Really Can Act: Vin Diesel's nuanced and vulnerable performance shocked audiences and critics more familiar with his roles in action films and family-friendly comedies.
- Retroactive Recognition: For those who only saw Vin Diesel in action films, the film can be quite a shocker (his fame started four years earlier with xXx). Even moreso as he has some hair on his head this time around.
YMMV / Find Me Guilty