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Mesrine: Killer Instinct

January 16, 2011

Mesrine: Killer Insinct (2008)
Director: Jean-Francois Richet
Actors: Vincent Cassel, Roy Dupuis, Gerard Depardieu

mesrine-1.jpg (500×211)

Synopsis: The genesis of arch French criminal Jacques Mesrine (Vincent Cassel).

ReviewMesrine: Killer Instinct – part one of a biopic detailing the life and career of notorious French criminal, Jean Mesrine – is first and foremost a rattling good yarn. Even though the film’s scope is ambitious and broad – being at various stages an internecine gangster story, a character study, a classic thriller, and prison drama – the filmmakers never lose sight of the fact that the events themselves make the spectacle, and that intellectualising the subject matter too much would be counter-intuitive and take away from the entertainment value. The opening intertitle, warning viewers against reading too much into the factual veracity of the film, emphasises this is no conventional pathological study, though it is arguable that witnessing Mesrine’s rise from Algerian War veteran, and rebel against the values of his parents’ Vichy generation, to sadistic hoodlum and ladies’ man, a sense emerges of him as both arch opportunist, yet a man with a sense of his own manifest destiny. The film wouldn’t nearly so effective if the casting wasn’t spot-on, and in Vincent Cassel, the producers got exactly the right man to play Mesrine. Cassel’s ability to dovetail convincingly between some of the more light-hearted and outlandish of Mesrine’s escapades, versus the darker and more violent episodes, make him the ideal embodiment of this film’s charismatic persona. (January 2011)

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