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Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

FILM DETAILS
Certificate
15
Cast
Vincent Cassel
Cecile de France
Gerard Depardieu
.
Directors
Jean-Francois Richet.
Screenwriters
Jean-Francois Richet
Abdel Raouf Dafri.
Running Time
113 minutes

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Mesrine: Killer Instinct
Part one of the sprawling French crime epic


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Plot
The early career (1959-’70) of outlaw Jacques Mesrine (Cassel), covering his military service in Algeria, apprenticeship with a Paris gang-lord (Depardieu), crime-spree partnership with soulmate Jeanne (De France) and escape from a tough Canadian prison.


Review
Mesrine: Killer Instinct
In France, Jacques Mesrine has the legendary status of John Dillinger or the Kray Brothers. Like other criminal biopic subjects Mark Read (Chopper) and Cass Pennant (Cass), Mesrine took the time, while in jail, to write an autobiography, putting his own side of the story on the record.

Earlier French films and TV shows have covered sections of Mesrine’s career, but this ambitious, full-on biography is a two-part, four-hour epic released Che/Kill Bill-style. It opens in 1979 with an edgy, split-screen sequence in which Mesrine (Vincent Cassel) and a girlfriend (Ludivine Sagnier) are surprised by a mysterious hit squad on the streets of Paris, then flashes back 20 years to find Jacques getting his first taste of murder when ordered to execute an Algerian rebel’s sister — he delivers appropriate ultra-violence, but shows an anarchist streak by not exactly obeying orders.

In scale, this is in a league with the historical gangland epics of Coppola and Scorsese. However, The Godfather and GoodFellas are ensemble pieces, anatomising a corrupt society; this is a throwback to the Cagney-Robinson phase of the gangster film, focusing on a single charismatic, contradictory thug. Mesrine’s life is so dangerous, few stick around long enough to challenge Cassel’s star turn, though heavyweight Gérard Depardieu registers as Mesrine’s mentor and Cecile De France could have carried a film by herself as the only woman peculiar enough to enjoy sharing Mesrine’s spree in two countries.

Even with two movies to play with, director Jean-François Richet (best known for the US remake of Assault On Precinct 13) is on fast-forward. He cuts from Mesrine’s decision to take part in an ill-fated bank heist to his arrival in prison, makes a point of the gangster’s inability to connect with children who are played by different actors every time he (and we) see them and speeds through a variety of crimes. Killer Instinct only slows to make a point when Mesrine is confined in a brutal Canadian jail from which he escapes with a Quebec Liberation Front comrade (Roy Dupuis). This sequence is capped by their return, heavily armed, to attack the institution and foment a mass break-out — with Mesrine almost, but not quite, transforming from cash-grabbing crook to revolutionary.


Extras

Mesrine: Killer Instinct/ Public Enemy Number 1 Mesrine: Killer Instinct/ Public Enemy Number 1
Released: 25 January 2010
One solid 45-minute ‘making of’ per film, plus (on the Blu-ray only) a Richet interview and deleted scenes.


Verdict
Instantly gripping, with a powerhouse star performance, it’ll make you want to speed through the weeks to get to part two.


Reviewed by Kim Newman

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Mesrine: Killer Instinct
Empire Star Rating

part 1 and 2; best viewed together

More stylish action thriller than a factual documentation, weaving in and out of episodes in Mesrine's life. From the off it's a priveledge to see Cassell, the Depardieu of the modern age, share the same screen as the French -cinema legend. All the performances are strong and detailed. Though predictably much is accounted for Mesrine's many female relationships, they show the man's insecurities, most significantly in his last reationship (in pt.2)where Mesrine is at his most vulnerable, thoug... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by gzus at 17:15, 20 February 2010 | Report This Post


Mesrine: Killer Instinct/Public Enemy No.1

Very watchable even though it is subtitled because when you have a subtitled film that isnt great it can seem like too much effort to watch example being district 9 ultimatum. Killer Instinct is the most entertaining and public enemy No1 is not bad but you know how it ends because it shows you, Blu ray is good value because it has part one and part two on one disc. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Bighousewill at 18:59, 31 January 2010 | Report This Post


Gripping & Fast Paced - Tres bien!

Just took out an advance copy of this movie on blu-ray, having missed it in the cinema, and having got through 'Killer Instinct' I only just managed to resist temptation and not go straight into part 2(as unlike the cinema the DVD and blu-ray release has both films in one, which makes excellent value for money IMO!). I never really knew anything about Jacques Mesrine before watching this, and made a point of not looking him up - as I thought I may find things out that would spoil parts of ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by lauriedunsire at 20:39, 21 January 2010 | Report This Post


Mes-merising

A movie about a guy who likes to rob, smoke, drink, fuck chics, and shoot people. All in the classic gangsta-stylie. And he's French! What's not to like? ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by SpiderBat at 01:10, 03 September 2009 | Report This Post


Mesrine: Killer Instinct

Good movie with a great central performance from Cassel who has retained his intensity from La Haine. Not sure if the comparisions to The Godfather and Goodfellows in reviews are a little over-reaching, but I agree that judgement should be reserved until part 2 is released. Here's hoping it'll be a thrilling end sequence in part 2 and not a tad disappointing like the final sequence of Kill Bill Vol 2 ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by la26478 at 21:10, 30 August 2009 | Report This Post


RE: Mesrine : Killer Instinct

L: Barraluke L: Alabama This is one of the best films I have seen in ages, yes there was alot of information/characters but I thought it was executed brilliantly and remained exciting throughout. Cassel was awesome, so good. nevitable that part two will be a let down by comparision it comes close to what I saw tonight, roll on August 28th. ote] Empire says that Part Two is "An Instant Gangster Classic" and is better than Part 1. I cant wait. illy me, I forget for a second tha... More

Posted by Alabama at 17:01, 20 August 2009 | Report This Post


Not dissapointed at all... Gripping, tense, tightly scripted, ofcourse they couldn't show ALL aspects of Mesrine's life, but we could easily fill in the gaps.. Cassel as usual is mesmerising. Beats Public Enemies on it's heard and more. Roll on part two ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by omarx at 00:04, 18 August 2009 | Report This Post


RE: Mesrine: Killer Instinct

Well... that was bloody disappointing. It's completely rational not to past sentence until you've heard what part two has to say, but for me, the damage has already been done.  This narrative is like a skipping stone on the surface of Jacques Mesrine's life.  Indiscriminately landing here, jetting past whole swathes of life there.  I realised very early on that I didn't trust the makers of this film as arbiters of this man's life.  And since no effort whatsoever was mad... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by demoncleaner at 23:32, 17 August 2009 | Report This Post


Mesrine

The film follows this episodic path with scenes falling over each other in the race to tell Mesrine's story. Director Richet, on a quest to tell his tale at breakneck speed, leaves scenes out that other directors would deem essential: In a brief ten-minute segment, Mesrine arrives in Canada, gets a job as a chauffeur, kidnaps his millionaire boss, flees to the US, is arrested in Monument Valley, and winds up in prison. The 'hows' and the 'whys' according to Richet aren’t important. It's ar... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by moviemaniac2 at 18:44, 14 August 2009 | Report This Post


RE: Mesrine : Killer Instinct

Director: Jean-Francois Richet Screenwriters: Abdel Raouf Dafri, Jean-Francois Richet Starring: Vincent Cassel, Ludivine Sagnier, Cécile De France, Gérard Depardieu, Roy Dupuis Synopsis Based on the true story of Jacques Mesrine (Cassel), a professional gangster in France before he was declared as Public Enemy Number One. Review A few weeks ago came the release of Michael Mann's Public Enemies, which was a fact-based thriller that depicted Great Depression-based bank robber Jo... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by R W at 20:12, 13 August 2009 | Report This Post


RE: Mesrine : Killer Instinct

L: Alabama This is one of the best films I have seen in ages, yes there was alot of information/characters but I thought it was executed brilliantly and remained exciting throughout. Cassel was awesome, so good. nevitable that part two will be a let down by comparision it comes close to what I saw tonight, roll on August 28th. ote] Empire says that Part Two is "An Instant Gangster Classic" and is better than Part 1. I cant wait. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Barraluke at 11:31, 13 August 2009 | Report This Post


RE: Mesrine : Killer Instinct

This is one of the best films I have seen in ages, yes there was alot of information/characters but I thought it was executed brilliantly and remained exciting throughout. Cassel was awesome, so good. It is inevitable that part two will be a let down by comparision but if it comes close to what I saw tonight, roll on August 28th. ... More

Posted by Alabama at 23:15, 12 August 2009 | Report This Post


RE: Mesrine : Killer Instinct

I thought it was very good. I agree with previous posts and look forward to seeing how part 2 contributes to the story. I enjoyed it far more than a certain other summer film about a bank robber though! ... More

Posted by hmtb at 23:32, 11 August 2009 | Report This Post


RE: Mesrine : Killer Instinct

really enjoyed it, but will have to hold judgment until part 2 is released. ... More

Posted by John_P at 22:03, 10 August 2009 | Report This Post


RE: Mesrine : Killer Instinct

Just got back from this, have to say I'm not really sure what I thought. Like Indio suggests, maybe I should wait til part 2 to pass proper judgement. I did think that they crammed rather too much in and I would have liked to have seen some of the characters more fleshed out. Maybe, that'll happen in part 2. ... More

Posted by bobatim at 21:33, 08 August 2009 | Report This Post


Mesrine : Killer Instinct

Saw this last night and thought it was very good, but I think I'll need to see part two before passing proper judgement on how the two parts works as a whole, and seeing how some of the scenes in this fit into the big picture.   While there is a declaration at the beginning that you can only fit so much of a persons life into a film, the sheer number of characters that it tries to fit in means that some of the characters seem a bit sketchy, I could have done with more ba... More

Posted by Indio at 11:11, 08 August 2009 | Report This Post


Sounds superb, I love Cassel and big Gerard, ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Pat Roach at 02:49, 05 August 2009 | Report This Post


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