Greetings again from the darkness. Haven’t looked at next week’s new releases yet, but I am almost hoping for a rom-com after watching this film and Animal Kingdom back to back. That’s a couple of very rough, though well made films.
Jacques Mesrine was an infamous French outlaw/bank robber/kidnapper who actually began to feed on his media coverage. This film, as well as part 2, are based on his own writings while he was incarcerated. Somehow Vincent Cassel captures the pure evil of Mesrine and presents him as the charismatic and powerful figure he evidently was.
Having apparently lost his soul during the war in Algeria, Mesrine joins forces with a local crime lord played by French acting legend Gerard Depardieu. Their wake of criminal activity is only eclipsed by the pile of bodies. No surprise that Mesrine’s wife runs from him and he then hooks up with Jeanne, played by Cecile DeFrance. They seem to be the perfect match and quickly become known as the French Bonnie and Clyde. Only they are much more violent and brutal. In fact, Mesrine seems to thrive on risk and danger.
Mesrine manages a daring prison escape and even attempts to break back into the same prison to keep a promise of helping other prisoners escape. Director Jean-Francois Richet does an excellent job of displaying the menace of Mesrine and the absolute lack of morals he flashes.
The film never drags even while he is on the lam through Canada and the U.S. Since the film is broken into two parts (Mesrine: Public Enemy #1 will be released in a few weeks), I found it very interesting that the first film opens with what appears to be the end of part two. Maybe I am wrong, but that’s how it looks.
The score is terrific and Mr. Cassel delivers his best performance yet. He is riveting as Jacques Mesrine. Not sure I recommend it as a double feature with Animal Kingdom. They are both excellent films, but that’s an overload of crime and violence for one weekend! Mesrine: Killer Instinct is French with English subtitles.
For my comments on part two, please click this link: