Location: Glasgow Film Theatre (GFT) Date: 8th August, 2009
After finding the trailer for this movie by accident on you tube, I read everything I could about the movie and who (Jacques) Mesrine was I just more and more excited for its release in UK, and I was not dissappointed!
Mesrine: Death Instinct is the first movie of this 2 part French gangster epic about the rise and fall of France’s 1970’s Public Enemy Number 1 Jacques Mesrine. He was a murderer, Killer, Kidnapper, Bankrobber, a media darling and a self styled ecentric mad self publicist who lived off his Public Enemy status like he was royality.
Part 1 concentrates from 1959 upto 1970’s and it starts with split screen shots (like something from 1960s-early 1970’s action movie) but the tension building upto a big dramatic scene, that of the begining of the end Mesrine’s life. Dont scream at me “Paul you’ve gave the story away!!!” dont worry if you read the press info or know of Mesrine’s story you know what his fate was.
The flashback goes right back to 1959 during France’s war with Algeria and you get a slight glimspe of the brutality of the war when Mesrine’s commanding officer forces him to take a gun and kill a woman in cold blood. Trembling and anxious Mesrine kills the captive instead, this was our first sight the ruthless and brutal actions he would take. He returns home living with his parents but that is short lived when he meets up with his friend Paul ( Gilles Lellouche )and they embark on the long road of crime. He rise through the criminal ranks under the mentor and ageing boss Guido played by the fantastic Gerard Depardieu.
From the early moments you can see Mesrine is scizophrenic madman when has no respect for women through the way he speaks to his Mother and the violent treatment of his wife and mother of his children Sofia (Elena Anya ), who pulls a gun on her choosing his criminal friends. With his mother you can see his anger through his father where he argues with him to speak up against her but you learn the respect of father and son is thin due to the dark past his father bears and Guido is actually more the father figure. Mesrine’s other half when things are bad he always got his wife to go to his parents.
With his new found lover Jeanne (Cecile De France) before fleeing to Montreal they pull off a few heists in casino’s which pushes Mesrine into the media limelight for the first time. Whilst in Canada the pair along with Quebec Liberation Front leader Jean-Paul Mercier (Roy Dupius) failed kidnap attempt which sees the 3 been thrown into prison with Mesrine and Mercier been banged into a violent brutal Canadian secure unit. There is an disturbing but brilliant scene which shows the integration Mersine went through as the prison tried to break him down but as history goes he became more determined. The pair actually escape the unit to go another bankrobbing spree including robbing 2 banks next door to each other instead of escaping.
There is a few great scenes like the the prison unit escape when Mesrine steals bolt clippers and clips his way through a wire fence afterdetecting a blindspot and the times the policing would be in that section creating a edge of the seat moment. It was a very cliched surrounding big bald macho guys, playing basketball distracting the gaurds, like something out of a hollywood flick but the crazy thing was it was true! But what was more absurd was the attempt to break in again to release some of there other prison comrades which ended up been a big gunfight at the ok coral. At times this scene was too Hollywoodesque rather than real biopic moments. Another great moment is at the start of Mesrine’s criminal career when himself and friend Paul break into a house, the signs of in experience of house breaking and when the owners return and find the 2 you get to see how cocky and over confident Mesrine was and how he talked his way out of the house and escape!
Vincent Cassel delivers the goods producing a commanding convincing performance: a hard smoking and drinking,scizhophrenic madman who became a cult antihero who though he was a robin hood type figure though he never gave to the poor. But he also see how vunerable and Mesrine was as well. Depardieu and Dupuis are fantastic supporting but so are De France and Anaya but both slighlty underwritten characters which was a shame as both women played pivitol roles in Mesrine life. The film is written and directed by Jean francois Richet who is better known as the director of the 2005 remake of Assult on Precint 13 starring Ethan Hawke. Richet’s delivers a strong script bringing together some great set pieces and top notch running gags like how people prenounce Mesrine (MERR-in’).
Mesrine: Part 1, Death Instinct is a superb gripping french gangster movie which has powerhouse cast which actually delivers the goods (especially the lead man) and outshines Public Enemies with Johnny Depp in every department. With elements of Scarface, French Connection and Goodfellas this movie has all the indgrediants to be one of the all time great gangster movies in cinema history. Violent, gripping and entertaining.
Part 2 of the epic is out August 28th.
Review Rating: 4/5
Very shortly Ill be posting a article Im currently working about Mesrine as well info on vincent cassel, it’ll be online within next 24 hours.
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