Mesrine: L'instinct de mort (Mesrine: Killer Instinct)October 22, 2008
France / Canada (French / English)
Directed by Jean-François Richet
Written by Abdel Raouf Dafri & Jean-François Richet (Based on the book by Jacques Mesrine)
"Mesrine: Killer Instinct" is a rat-a-tat biographical dramatization of the notorious French gangster. Vincent Cassel delivers a punishing lead performance as Jacques Mesrine.
The pacing of "Killer Instinct" is both the film's offsetting characteristic and its curious draw. We seem to be flashing through Jacques Mesrine's rise to power (necessary for his ultimate fall) without much consequence or circuitry. When all is said and done it feels fitting, exhilarating even. Some bio-pics drags their heels and feel like the figure's mother has us on the couch with a thick photo album. Jean-François Richet sits us down to a sizzle reel! A part two,"Mesrine: Enemy Number One," awaits and you will know it.
From the paranoia of the cold opening, deliciously cut by Hervé Schneid (who also edited 2001's irresistible "Amélie"), to the uncertainty of the last scene's confrontation, the journey keeps you fixated. This is in large part due to Vincent Cassel absolutely knocking this role out of the park. Mesrine is a menace, capable of relaxing his victiims right before he takes them. After a wartime experience sparks said instinct that would lead him to trouble France and Canada for over a decade, a public enemy was made.
"Killer Instinct" only contains moments crucial to Mesrine's reign. We learn of his marriage and separation only through casual conversation. (After a terrifying scene of sticking a gun in his wife's mouth and telling her he will always choose his "friends" over her we can surely see why.) On more than one occasion I hoped for better treatment of crucial events, such as his teaming up with Jeanne Schneider. Nevertheless, "Mesrine: Killer Instict" has its style in spades. While it may not always be a smooth ride (in content or context) it is a fine crime film and stands out in contemporary French cinema.
CONTENT: strong brutal and bloody violence, intense and disturbing scenes, sexual content, nudity, strong language