Mesrine Public Enemy No.1 Review: You Don’t Know Jacques

MESRINE: PUBLIC ENEMY No 1: On General Release From 28th August 2009

Vincent Cassel returns as French firecracker Jacques Mesrine in the follow up to Killer Instinct that was released only a few weeks ago.

Filmed back to back, these two are seamlessly joined together with the same current of style, sex and shoot outs.
We last saw Mesrine constantly evading capture from French and Canadian authorities while going on a rampage with girlfriend Jeanne.

We catch up with Mesrine back in France where he is about to stand trial for various atrocities but there’s no way he’s going down without a fight. He quickly finds that the quickest way out of a courtroom is with a Judge kicking his feet as you drag him out with you at gunpoint. This little escapade earns him the prestigious title of Public Enemy No. 1.

With all of the attention he’s gotten from the press, it’s not long before Mesrine quickly gets his own personal police hound in the form of Abraham Lincoln lookalike, Commander Broussard. With the French police doubling their efforts to capture him, Mesrine dons a number of disguises to evade them, earning him the name ‘The Man Of A Thousand Faces.’

Mesrine has moved on from being a gangster and has delusions of grandeur by proclaiming to be a revolutionary, something that seems to anger the actual revolutionaries of the time. Mesrine is an attention seeker; one bank is never enough, it has to be two. He doesn’t just want to rob people; he wants to save them as well.

His arrogance and need for style is insatiable and as Commander Broussard bangs on his door with a dozen armed guards, Mesrine demands that he be given 20 minutes to get ready. He finally greets Broussard; clean shaven and smiling, holding a bottle of champagne.

Vincent Cassel is endlessly impressive with his totally unpredictable portrayal of Mesrine. Streaks of arrogance and violence fill in gaps between genuine affection for the woman in his life. After Jeanne dumped him at the end of the first movie, Mesrine moves on to the delightful elfin beauty Sylvia (Ludivine Sangier). While she’s not as much of a wildcard as Jeanne, Sylvia enjoys all the benefits of Mesrine’s criminal exploits and seems to truly love him and forgives him his faults.

The energy of the film is the same as the first; frenetic without overpowering the viewer. The editing and directorial style is typically French but is also reminiscent of the Bourne films. While it’s always engaging and the cast make every moment worth it, it’s a little too long.

Still, genuinely exciting and visually fun to watch with a truly fantastic cast. It’s almost a shame that there won’t be another.


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