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
When Mesrine drinks champagne with the commissaire Broussard, he holds the glass in his right hand when filmed from the front, and his left hand when filmed from the back. See more »
La journaliste interview:
Why are you doing this?
Because I don't like laws.
I don't like the laws and I don't want to be a slave of the alarm clock my whole life.
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?
What a question! Money, money, money... all of you just keep talking about it, always the same. But I'm completely different.
[...] See more »
I think it's common knowledge how the film ends, but I won't divulge for those that don't know. Public Enemy No. 1 is far more action packed and seems far more 'Hollywood' than the comparatively quieter 'Killer Instinct' - unsurprising though, considering it's the business end of the Mesrine story.
Cassel is the driving force behind the whole film, without him it would have been an average to good film - with him it's good to great.
I don't know where everyone stands as far as the real life Mesrine goes - hero or villain. I certainly put myself in the villain camp, and so does Cassel and it shows.
From the offset we see that all though Mesrine can speak passionately, lucidly and 'rabble rousingly' it is always characterised by an impenetrably brash and brazen arrogance which is NEVER counterbalanced with any vulnerability to make the character more endearing. Jacques Mesrine's inherent evil is often masked by a jocular bravado and his monologues justifying his way of life are mesmerising - but you're never convinced enough to actually like him. Therein lies Cassel's greatest achievement in the film - to create a character for which all you can feel is antipathy but nevertheless to find him intriguing enough to carry on watching.
Certainly, he does afford us some light touches. I smiled as he boasted at the beginning of the film of being Public Enemy Number 1; his face being Gallic nonchalance personified, as well as the scene of him and his accomplice Francois Besse (played by Mathieu Almaric) trying to cross a river.
Besse provides a solid sidekick for Mesrine to flourish, telling Mesrine that they are not 'luminaries' soon after Mesrine's interview where he tries to elevate himself to hero status with the most simplistic of demagogic arguments: "I don't like laws and I don't want to be a slave to those laws in perpetuity" (to paraphrase).
I do have some small criticisms, such as Anne Consigny's (who incidentally appeared with Almaric in 'Wild Grass', 'A Christmas Tale' and 'The Diving Bell and the Butterfly') unconvincing role as Mesrine's corrupt solicitor. Her face seems just too honest.
That petty criticism aside I'd give the film 7.5/10, giving the benefit of the doubt it's an IMDb 8.
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