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Mesrine: Killer Instinct

Mesrine: Killer Instinct

5.0 1
Director: Jean-François Richet

Cast: Vincent Cassel, Cécile De France, Gérard Depardieu


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This tough and gritty French-language crime drama represents the premier installment in a two-part series of features on the life and doings of notorious Gallic hood Jacques Mesrine (1936-1979). Mesrine is played, in both installments, by actor Vincent Cassel, who reportedly underwent massive weight gain and weight loss to convincingly


This tough and gritty French-language crime drama represents the premier installment in a two-part series of features on the life and doings of notorious Gallic hood Jacques Mesrine (1936-1979). Mesrine is played, in both installments, by actor Vincent Cassel, who reportedly underwent massive weight gain and weight loss to convincingly portray the volatile Mesrine at various periods of his life. Director Jean-François Richet begins in 1979, with Mesrine's uncommonly violent death, whereby he and a beautiful young woman are suddenly (and fatally) ambushed by Parisian police not far from Mesrine's place of birth. Richet then flashes back to the Franco-Algerian War of the late '50s and a brutal interrogation undergone by Mesrine. Following a military discharge, Mesrine returns to his parents' suburb of Clichy, where his dad has arranged a pathetic job for him in a lace-making factory. Never one to take humiliation lying down, Jacques perceives burglary, larceny, and racketeering as much-superior options and decides to pursue a life of crime via a "business partnership" with childhood buddy Paul (Gilles Lellouche), who works for mobster Guido (Gérard Depardieu). As the years pass, Jacques works his way up through the ranks of the underworld; via Paul, he also meets and falls hard for two women: Pigalle streetwalker Sarah (Florence Thomassin), and Sofia (Elena Anaya), a beautiful Spanish woman with whom he cohabitates after doing time in a French prison. Following a brief and unsuccessful attempt to "go straight," Jacques reconnects with Guido, then finds it necessary to escape from France to Canada with his new mistress, Jeanne (Cécile De France). Unfortunately, another prison sentence is waiting for him there, replete with brutal solitary confinement, but the possibility of a daring escape beckons. The second half of the Mesrine saga, entitled Mesrine: L'Énnemi Public No. 1 for French release, followed immediately after and picks up where this installment wraps.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Jason Buchanan
Complex and charismatic, larger-than-life French outlaw Jacques Mesrine racked up such an extensive rap sheet that it reads like a tightly wound pulp crime novel. A veteran of the Algerian War, the highly elusive master of disguise began building his notorious reputation early in life, and later thrived on his status as French Public Enemy Number 1. In short, Mesrine was the kind of criminal who seemed to crave the spotlight -- at least when it wasn't shining down from a guard tower in the prison yard -- and thanks in large part to a career-defining performance by acclaimed French actor Vincent Cassel, director Jean-François Richet's Mesrine: Killer Instinct tells Mesrine's story in a way that's sweepingly cinematic without being overly romanticized. Jacques Mesrine's story begins in 1959, when as a young French soldier, he took part in the brutal interrogation of a young Algerian during the French-Algerian War. Later, after returning to Clichy to live with his parents, Mesrine reconnects with his old friend Paul (Gilles Lellouche), who lands him a lucrative job working for a local mob boss named Guido (Gérard Depardieu) with close ties to the SAO (Secret Army Organization). The following year, Jacques and Paul are traveling through Spain when the rising underworld heavy falls for Sofia (Elena Anaya), a radiant young woman who will eventually become Mesrine's wife and the mother of his three children. Their blissful union is short-lived, however, when, after returning to France, Mesrine seeks vengeance against a vicious pimp who mercilessly beat a kindhearted prostitute, and winds up in prison after taking part in a botched robbery. Upon his release, Mesrine lands a high-paying job with a prominent architectural firm, only to fall back under Guido's malevolent influence after learning that his employer plans to downsize, and he's likely to be first on the chopping block. In the wake of a brutal confrontation with his wife, Mesrine's marriage comes to an abrupt end, and he falls for Jeanne (Cécile De France), a mysterious brunette whose criminal appetite proves nearly as rampant as his own. Before long the shotgun-wielding pair is robbing casinos together, though their romantic crime spree comes to a halt when Mesrine shoots a thug in a bar, and nearly dies as the result of a brazen reprisal shooting close to home. Leaving his children with his parents, Mesrine then flees to Quebec and forges a criminal alliance with Jean-Paul Mercier (Roy Dupuis) a financier for the Quebec Liberation Front. Though Mesrine and Jeanne both find gainful employment as the servants of an aging billionaire, their peace is short-lived after they're fired over a minor altercation, then bungle an attempt, along with Mercier, to kidnap their wealthy employer. As a result, Mesrine and Mercer are both handed stiff prison sentences. Together, they stage a daring daytime escape, and return heavily armed in an attempt to break out the rest of the prisoners. Shortly thereafter, things begin to look especially grim when Mesrine and Mercier gun down a pair or rangers in a secluded park. And that's only the first installment of Richet's impressively rich, yet surprisingly brisk, crime saga. Whereas a vast number of fact-based films open with statements touting the accuracy of the events they are depicting, Richet and screenwriter Abdel Raouf Dafri's adaptation of Mesrine's own novel, L'Instinct de Mort, takes a refreshingly different approach by admitting that "all films are part fiction" and that "no film can replicate the complexity of a human life." By granting themselves the artistic license to capture the essence of their subject without being bound by the cold, hard facts, the filmmakers acknowledge that they're creating cinema first and foremost, yet display a level of reverence toward their controversial subject that indicates they aren't perverting the details simply for the sake of entertainment. And if Mesrine is anything, it's cinematic. With a grimly garish and flamboyant visual style that feels particularly influenced by Martin Scorsese and Brian De Palma, the film pops with energy and a palpable sense of foreboding. The fact that Cassel bears little actual resemblance to the criminal he's portraying does little to prevent us from becoming seduced by Mesrine's ominous charm, and as usual he disappears into the character with uncanny ease. Given Mesrine's buoyant personality and Cassel's exceptional talents as an actor, it would have been easy for the character to come off in a glamorous light, but by placing heavy emphasis on the infamous desperado's volatility, the screenwriters make it perfectly clear that Mesrine was an extremely dangerous man with exceptionally deep flaws. Likewise, French screen legend Depardieu is particularly terrifying as bloated mob heavy Guido, and the range he brings to the character during a few quieter moments with Mesrine masterfully conveys the characters' mutual respect. Supporting performances are strong all around, particularly in the cases of Dupuis and De France, as Mesrine's key partners in crime. Mesrine and Jeanne's relationship is something of a match made in hell, but the screenplay portrays their commitment to one another in a way that feels just as genuine as Mesrine's loyalty to Mercier. Much like Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins, Mesrine: Killer Instinct succeeds at being two things at once: a satisfying origins story and a compelling depiction of the man who emerged. Movie lovers will be impressed by the assured visual style, the powerful performances, and the strength of the storytelling, while true-crime buffs will no doubt revel in the artfully lurid depictions of the events that launched Mesrine to infamy. And since this is just the first installment of a two-part saga, there's little doubt that both types of filmgoers will come flocking back to see just how the epic story winds to a close in Mesrine: Public Enemy #1.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Music Box Films
[Wide Screen]
Sales rank:

Special Features

Theatrical Trailer

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Vincent Cassel Jacques Mesrine
Cécile De France Jeanne Schneider
Gérard Depardieu Guido
Roy Dupuis Jean-Paul Mercier
Gilles Lellouche Paul
Elena Anaya Sofia
Michel Duchaussoy Mesrine's Father
Myriam Boyer Mesrine's Mother
Florence Thomassin Sarah
Ludivine Sagnier Sylvia Jeanjacquot
Gérard Lanvin Charlie Bauer
Samuel Le Bihan Michel Ardouin
Olivier Gourmet Commissioner Broussard
Georges Wilson The Billionaire
Anne Consigny Mesrine's Lawyer
Laure Marsac Interviewer
Alain Fromager Journalist

Technical Credits
Jean-François Richet Director,Screenwriter
Marco Beltrami Score Composer
Antoinette Boulat Casting
Eric Catelan Cinematographer
Dominique Coladant Makeup
Jean Cottin Associate Producer
Abdel Raouf Dafri Screenwriter
Daniel Delume Executive Producer
Robert Gantz Cinematographer
Emile Ghigo Production Designer
Francois Groult Sound/Sound Designer
Gerard Hardy Sound/Sound Designer
Thomas Langmann Producer
Jean Minondo Sound/Sound Designer
Emmanuel Montamat Associate Producer
Virginie Montel Costumes/Costume Designer
Thi Thanh Tu Nguyen Makeup
Loic Prian Sound/Sound Designer
Maxime Remillard Cinematographer,Co-producer
Andre Rouleau Co-producer
Herve Schneid Editor
Laurent Sivot Production Manager
Patrick Vilain Makeup
Alexandre Widmer Sound/Sound Designer

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Mesrine: Killer Instinct 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago