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Mesrine: Public Enemy #1 (2008)
"L'ennemi public n°1" (original title)

7.5
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Ratings: 7.5/10 from 20,204 users   Metascore: 72/100
Reviews: 35 user | 108 critic | 18 from Metacritic.com

The story of notorious French gangster Jacques Mesrine.

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(scenario), (adaptation), 1 more credit »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
...
Michel Ardouin
...
...
Georges Wilson ...
Michel Duchaussoy ...
Le père de Jacques Mesrine
...
L'avocate de Jacques Mesrine
...
La journaliste interview
Alain Fromager ...
Jacques Dallier - journaliste pour Minute
Alain Doutey ...
Le président du tribunal à Compiègne
Arsène Mosca ...
Jojo - un policier
Christophe Vandevelde ...
Inspecteur Gégé
Luc Thuillier ...
Le commissaire OCRB / Lucien Aimé-Blanc
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Storyline

The story of Jacques Mesrine, France's public enemy No. 1 during the 1970s. After nearly two decades of legendary criminal feats - from multiple bank robberies and to prison breaks. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for bloody brutal violence, a scene of sexuality, nudity and pervasive language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

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Language:

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Release Date:

19 November 2008 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Mesrine: Public Enemy #1  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

€21,166,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$100,242 (USA) (3 September 2010)

Gross:

$275,125 (USA) (11 February 2011)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

|

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Just like Vincent Cassel, Samuel Le Bihan gained 20 kgs (44 pounds) for his role as gangster Michel Ardouin. See more »

Goofs

There is a tactile paving on Stalingrad metro station : this was not installed at that time. Also, while Mesrine is in the metro, one may see the RATP Green, which is the color of modern Paris metro. At that time, line 2 metro were blue. See more »

Quotes

La journaliste interview: [Begins interview] Why are you doing this?
Jacques Mesrine: [long pause] Because I don't like laws.
Jacques Mesrine: I don't like the laws and I don't want to be a slave of the alarm clock my whole life.
Jacques Mesrine: I don't want to spend my entire life dreaming. I don't want to always think how I have to work half a year just so I could buy some thing.
La journaliste interview: What do you expect from your life? Recognition? Money?
Jacques Mesrine: [chuckles] What a question! Money, money, money... all of you just keep talking about it, always the same. But I'm completely different.
Jacques Mesrine: ...
[...]
See more »

Connections

Follows Mesrine: Killer Instinct (2008) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Lands successfully between crime thriller, gangster saga and character study
26 September 2009 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

*REVIEW OF BOTH PARTS*

There is a short paragraph that opens both "Mesrine" films; the exact wording escapes me, but it says something like "no film can accurately portray the complexities of a human life". This seems to be a pre-emptive defense, as if Richet anticipates criticism for a lack of depth or some glaring omissions. After all, Jacques Mesrine is apparently still a famous name in France, and his public persona lives on. If even half his supposed exploits were true, the story would still be crying out for a definitive dramatisation. As such, Richet has wisely avoided making any real ethical judgements of Mesrine's character, focusing instead on the sex, violence and publicity that he thrived upon. But it's Vincent Cassel's committed and exuberant performance that develops this meat-and-potatoes content into an unbiased character study of excess and, over all, a very fine pair of movies.

"Mesrine" may not seem to be particularly even-handed at first because of the glamour, the wisecracks, and the endless charisma, all of which are drawn from the rich stylistic tradition of the Gangster Movie, and used very skilfully in its favour. The fast pace of the story ensures we are either seduced or repulsed by the central character, and rarely anywhere in between. Sympathy or pity is irrelevant, and he is too brutal and trigger-happy to be rooted for as a regular protagonist. The first film is the slicker of the two, and the more visually satisfying due to the wonderfully stylish recreation of early 60s Paris (and elsewhere). Cassel plays Mesrine with youthful vigour here. He's all style and brash confidence, as endearing a wiseguy as any of Scorcese's characters. It's "Goodfellas", in fact, that "Killer Instinct" is most reminiscent of, with its sharp-suited mobsters (including a brilliantly grizzled Gerard Depardieu) and episodic year-hopping narrative.

By the half-way point, Mesrine is still something of an enigma. It's only in "Public Enemy No. 1" that the pace slows down and we can see, through a few intimate and contemplative scenes, what he has sacrificed to live as a superlative criminal. "I wasn't much of a son, I'm not much of a father either." he says, while in disguise visiting his own ailing father in hospital. He gradually alienates his closest friends and accomplices by trying to maintain the outlandish public profile he cultivated, rambling pseudo-revolutionary politics to journalists and threatening to kill judges and destroy all maximum security prisons. The "Goodfellas" ensemble of the first part becomes the isolated, ego-driven "Scarface" of the second as Cassel skilfully matures his character into a man resigned to the fate he knows must be coming.

The over all impression left by "Mesrine" is that it manages to land successfully between crime thriller, gangster saga and character study. This is achieved by the virtue of a standout central performance, as well as Richet's shrewd application of an American film-making style to a very French story. It ought to go down among the top crime dramas of the decade, or at the very least raise the (already decent) international profile of its impressive leading man.


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