Friday, August 27, 2010
Mesrine: Killer Instinct (L'instinct de mort)
It is an undeniable fact that outlaws and criminals sometimes do get their fame in the society and the attention from the public. Perhaps it is due to their stories usually are outrageous, notorious, barbaric, mysterious, rebellious, entertaining, and anything but ordinary. Or perhaps their stories might satisfy the fantasy for many who want to be one of those criminals, but never have the guts, cruelty, or intelligence to act upon it. Their stories continue to be told in books, on televisions, and in films. As a result, many of them have become household names. For example, Jesse James, Al Capone, John Dillinger, just to name a few. Now, a French name is joining the crowd—meet Jacques Mesrine.
Based on Jacques Mesrine's autobiography, French director Jean-François Richet's crime film "Mesrine: Killer Instinct" (L'instinct de mort | France/Canada/Italy 2008 | in French | 113 min.) introduces Jacques Mesrine to the audience as "a man of a thousand faces."
After his service in French Army during Algerian War, Jacques Mesrine (Vincent Cassel) returns to Paris in 1959. He immediately teams up with gangsters and mafias and begins his heist career, and starts to get in and out of prison. His wife leaves him with his young children after he sticks a gun in her mouth and yells at her: "Between you and my friends, I choose my friends."
After he and his mistress Jeanne Schneider (Cécile De France) kidnap a millionaire, he is back to the prison and tortured, and miraculously escapes. Gradually, he reaches to the status as law enforcement's "Public Enemy No. 1."
Although Vincent Cassel gives a memorable performance as Mesrine, he does not generate the charisma as Johnny Depp playing John Dillinger in "Public Enemies," and his '70s-gay-men's mustache does not help either.
The film chronicles Mesrine's crimes in as-it-happens fashion and presents a man with multiple personalities, if not with thousand faces. One minute he can be a devoted loving father, the next minute he appears to be a monster. He is neither a heroic anti-authority figure, nor a hardcore terrifying mafia as in "Goodfellas." At times, you might wonder if you are watching "COPS" on TV.
Yet, you will hardly be bored watching Mesrine's crimes in this film. You might cheer for him when he comes back to the prison to take revenge. After all, he is not somebody you see in your everyday life, and probably you want to keep it that way as well.