Mesrine: Public Enemy No 1 (15)
Killer Instinct: 7th August - 3rd September 2009
Public Enemy No 1: from 28th August 2009
Directed by Jean-Francois Richet
Written by Abdel Raouf Dafri
This two part biography profiles an extraordinary gangster, Jacques Mesrine
(Vincent Cassel), once described as France's public enemy number one,
a title which he relished.
Mesrine: Public Enemy No 1 adds to the story of this repellent but charismatic
character, as portrayed in the outstanding opening section of this double-hander,
vividly directed by Jean-Francois Richet. The split screen effect utilised
by him in the first film is particularly striking.
In some ways it appeared unnecessary to create a second film, with it
being a rehash of crucial parts of Killer Instinct. Both of them are based
loosely on Mesrine's autobiography, which he wrote during several spells
Both films are not for the fainthearted with several brutal scenes of
violence, notably a man being buried alive and a reporter being kicked
to death by Mesrine. Also chilling was when Mesrine thrust a loaded gun
into the mouth of his wife.
He turned to crime after returning from Algeria, where he served in the
French army. His robberies and kidnappings grew ever more audacious as
his bravado rapidly increased. On one occasion he held up two banks on
the same road within minutes of each stick-up.
As well as being able to dish out violence, Mesrine was equally strong
in withstanding brutality meted out to him. The scenes where he is confined
to solitary confinement and repeatedly assaulted are harrowing to watch.
But his end came - depicted in both films - when he is ambushed while
travelling in his car with his partner-in-crime (Ludivine Sagnier) and
gunned down by the French police, recalling the way both Bonnie and Clyde