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Home Reviews Cinema reviews Mesrine: Killer Instinct
Mesrine: Killer Instinct Print E-mail
Written by Selina Pearson   
Friday, 07 August 2009 16:05
Director: Jean-François Richet
Cast: Vincent Cassel, Gérard Depardieu, Cécile De France
Certificate: 15

Mesrine: Killer Instinct (pronounced Mer-rine at the arty cinemas) is the first part of a biopic charting the rise, and eventual fall, of one of France’s most infamous criminals. The story begins with his final showdown in Paris in 1979, the end of his criminal career. From there, it takes the audience back to Jacques Mesrine’s (Cassell) brutal experiences in the Algerian war, before following his return to his parents in France, where he falls in with a bad crowd, including local godfather Guido (Depardieu). In the company of prostitutes and gangsters, Mesrine occupies his time robbing banks, along with the odd murder.

Despite attempts to go straight after his stretch behind bars, the ineffable pull of crime draws him in again, away from his young family. While evading the authorities and other criminal elements, he heads to Quebec, Canada, where he gets involved with separatists and kidnaps a local millionaire. When everything goes wrong he is imprisoned yet again, which sets up a brilliantly brazen prison escape.

The films themselves are based on Mesrine’s own writings. In fact, towards the end of this first film, the audience is treated to some of Mesrine’s shameless self-publicism when he is faced with the press following his arrest. Despite this, the portrait painted of this killer is stark and vicious. He is no hero, certainly not in the same way as Johnny Depp’s John Dillinger. In fact, Mesrine is so gritty and brutal that it makes Public Enemies look positively superficial. Given the recent of release of Michael Mann’s movie and the similarity in subject matter, comparisons are inevitable. Mesrine’s narrative is much better paced and more engaging, despite the brutality.



Harsh, horrible and utterly unromantic, this is crime stripped down and laid bare. This public enemy is no hero, but you'll love him for it.


The second part, Mesrine: Public Enemy No. 1, is released 28th August.




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