Mesrine: Killer Instinct ***


Mesrine: Killer Instinct” is a French crime film that chronicles the real life exploits of Jacques Mesrine.  I had never heard of this man until I saw this movie.  This man lived quite a life.  He was vile and sadistic but also fiercely focused and energetic.  The film is directed by Jean-Francois Richet, who directed the remake of “Assault On Precinct 13”.

A lot of people are calling this the French version of “Heat”.  Personally I can’t stand when people make claims like that for any film.  There are similarities but they are two very different films.  “Mesrine” takes the form of a biography as well as being a crime thriller.

Vincent Cassel, one of the best actor’s working today gives a truly mesmerizing performance.  You might remember him from American made movies like “Oceans Twelve” and “Eastern Promises”.   In France he is certainly a lot more popular. 

Mesrine is famous for a series of bank robberies as well as kidnappings and murders.  The film opens with him serving his time for the French army in the Algerian war.  His duties involve torturing and killing POW’s.  It is here that he learns that he has what it takes to end peoples lives without remorse.  When he returns home he goes to work for a petty gangster played by Gerard Depardieu.

Eventually his story goes global as he ends up in Quebec prison, which he breaks out of.  This was the first of a few jails he managed to escape from.  The film ends with Mesrine storming the jail he just escaped from to bust out a few friends he left behind.

Richet seems like a good choice for this material.  The screenplay could have been a little tighter though.  The story seems to jump from major event to major event without much filler in between.  It is Cassel’s performance that keeps us going. 

Stay tuned for the second part as this was actually a four hour film that was cut in to two parts.  



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