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Mesrine: Public Enemy No. 1

January 20, 2011

Mesrine: Public Enemy No. 1 (2008)
Director: Jean-Francois Richet
Actors: Vincent Cassel, Mathieu Amalric, Ludivine Sagnier

mesrine_2_tb.jpg (231×115)

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

Review: The second half of Jean-Francois Richet’s thrilling Mesrine crime diptych continues with the same cracking verve of the first film. Without that film’s need to foist some semblance of backstory on to proceedings, Mesrine: Public Enemy No. 1 gets straight on with its relentless conveyor belt of episodes where Mesrine is invariably robbing banks, in the process of evading capture, or plotting his way out of jail or police custody. In all honesty, if the film wasn’t quite so exciting, it could be viewed as fairly monotonous with its minimal levels of characterisation and thematic meat. Take away the French subject matter, and the grammar of the film really is little different from a better-than-average Hollywood action thriller, and Mesrine certainly isn’t on the same level of the greats of the genre such as Francis Ford Coppola’s seminal Godfather trilogy. That shouldn’t deflect though from just how purely enjoyable Mesrine is, and the closing sequence of the stakeout of Mesrine in Paris, and his actual demise, is one of the most gripping sequences of action cinema I’ve seen in many a year. (January 2011)

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