Monday, September 06, 2010
Mesrine: Killer Instinct (Part One)
Part one of a two part epic, this crime drama plays like a French "Scarface" as it charts the rise of Jacques Mesrine, a notorious French gangster in the '60's and '70's. Loosely based on real events, "Killer Instinct" introduces us to Mesrine as he returns to France from the war in Algiers. He begins his rise through the French underworld under the guidance of an older mobster, Guido, played by Gerard Depardieu.
Mesrine himself, is played by Vincent Cassel and he is electric in his best role yet, understandably winning the French equivalent of an Oscar for his role. Mr. Cassel lights up the screen with a multi-layered performance that captivates the audience. He turns Jacques Mesrine into such a charming rogue that you root for him to succeed in his criminal ways.
The film is directed by Jean-Francois Richet, who also won the French award for best director. The film moves very quickly with Mr. Richet keeping each scene short and concise, leaving the viewer to fill in the gaps between the editing. While this may turn off some viewers, it keeps the action going and ratchets up the suspense. There are some wonderful set pieces including an jailbreak in broad daylight and memorable bank robberies. The screenplay is based on Mesrine's autobiography which, while very colorful, is probably filled with much exaggeration but all of it, true or not is captured in the film.
Most of "Killer Instinct" takes place in the '60's and the costumes, sets, music and cinematography all work in concert to evoke the times. There are some scenes of brutal violence and the film is in French with English subtitles.