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Mesrine Part 1: Killer Instinct (2008)

L'instinct de mort (original title)
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The story of french gangster Jacques Mesrine, before he was called Public Enemy N°1.

Writers:

Jacques Mesrine (book), Abdel Raouf Dafri (scenario) | 2 more credits »
8 wins & 12 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Vincent Cassel ... Jacques Mesrine
Cécile de France ... Jeanne Schneider (as Cécile De France)
Gérard Depardieu ... Guido
Gilles Lellouche ... Paul
Roy Dupuis ... Jean-Paul Mercier
Elena Anaya ... Sofia
Florence Thomassin Florence Thomassin ... Sarah
Michel Duchaussoy ... Pierre André Mesrine - le père de Jacques Mesrine
Myriam Boyer Myriam Boyer ... La mère de Jacques Mesrine
Abdelhafid Metalsi Abdelhafid Metalsi ... Ahmed - le proxénète
Gilbert Sicotte ... Le milliardaire
Deano Clavet ... Roger André
Ludivine Sagnier ... Sylvie Jeanjacquot
Mustapha Abourachid ... Le harki
Sofiane Benrazzak Sofiane Benrazzak ... Le Fellagah #1 (as Sophiane Benrezzak)
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Storyline

Mesrine: Killer Instinct -- the first of two parts -- charts the outlaw odyssey of Jacques Mesrine (Vincent Cassel), the legendary French gangster of the 1960s and 1970s who came to be known as French Public Enemy No. 1 and The Man of a Thousand Faces. Infamous for his bravado and outrageously daring prison escapes, Mesrine carried out numerous robberies, kidnappings and murders in a criminal career that spanned continents until he was shot dead in 1979 by France's notorious anti-gang unit. Thirty years after his death, his infamy lives on. Mesrine was helped along the way by beautiful and equally reckless Jeanne Schneider (Cécile de France), a Bonnie to match his Clyde. Mesrine made up his own epic, between romanticism and cruelty, flamboyance and tragedy. Written by Music Box Films

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong brutal violence, some sexual content and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

France | Canada | Italy

Language:

French | English | Arabic | Spanish

Release Date:

22 October 2008 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

Mesrine: Killer Instinct See more »

Filming Locations:

Clichy, Hauts-de-Seine, France See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$152,873, 29 August 2010, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$551,660, 25 February 2011
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

DTS | Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Vincent Cassel gained 20 kgs (44 pounds) for the role during the four months leading up to the shoot. See more »

Goofs

The ballistic vests are clearly not the ones are used in the 70s. See more »

Connections

Featured in Maltin on Movies: Flipped (2010) See more »

Soundtracks

"Whistlin' Joe'
Written by Joseph Tillman
Performed by Lloyd Lambert
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User Reviews

 
I Really Wish It Had Not Been Split In Half.
17 November 2010 | by jzappaSee all my reviews

Mesrine: Killer Instinct opens on one of the most admirably up-front disclaimers ever to introduce a fact-based film, stating not merely that some of the events have been dramatized, or that names have been changed, but frankly that no movie can ever account 100% for the entire life of a person. Nevertheless, this first half of the story presents what sums up to a nearly simplified concentration on the proceedings present in most gangster stories. Comparable in some obvious ways to Goodfellas or Public Enemies but on the grander scale and somewhat in the artistically inventive vein of Che, Mesrine moves with blistering liveliness. Like Che, there's little or no exposition or elucidation between scenes or events, but unlike Che this develops a hurried rhythm. But Richet manages to present things in fresh and innovative ways at times. Mesrine's final day is seen first, in a multi-screened wall-to-wall juxtaposition of purposefully surplus and divergent angles. But as the film hearkens back to the beginning and starts to accelerate, it comes to explode with violence of Scarface proportions, a perhaps too bombastic orchestral score, and a virtually streamlined focus on the events we've seen in every gangster biopic.

After having seen this film, I've read a little more about Jacques Mesrine, who described all his robberies and killings as acts liberating him from the state, which may perhaps cause these films to elicit an above-average response for foreign films in the U.S., Killer Instinct finally making its way through flyover country at a peak time when Americans feel knee-jerk reactionary impulses to antagonize the state, impulses that will only dig us an increasingly deeper hole, just as Mesrine's do him.

Vincent Cassel is vigorous, forceful and captivating as Mesrine, personifying the man via decades of bodily and academic transformation, from his days as a fighter in Algeria, to his days of incarceration, to his most despicable impulses, offenses and displays, to instances of emotional and raw intimacy, to his sincere tussles with self-identity. Quite soon, we believe him as scared of nothing and with the capacity for anything. Cassel is in every scene, giving a simultaneously understated and massive performance of contradictory impulses, fierce animality and masculine overdrive. Richet encircles him with remarkable support, too. Gerard Depardieu is superbly boorish as an older gang boss who schools Mesrine in the thieves' code of honor, Gérard Lanvin is unrefined and fervent as a real radical with whom Mesrine establishes a partnership, and Elena Anaya is appealing as demure but highly effective partner in crime and love.

The film has numerous outstanding scenes, such as the one in which Mesrine meets Depardieu, and the two hit it off after threatening to kill one another. Or the one in which three guys take a night-time ride cracking wise, until the atmosphere delicately veers and one recognizes he's about to die. Or, of course, a relentlessly tense and truly audacious jailbreak. Still, the forfeit of making me wait for the second half of the story before I see the big picture is that Richet doesn't convey a consistent theme yet, not to mention a cogent narrative. He often appears to be after a modern kinship with a thug's self-imposed code of principle, the seal of Jean-Pierre Melville's hip 1950s and 1960s films, when the result is essentially a series of gut punches. But that is where its charm lies, as well as in the intermittent flashes of cinematic outlandishness. Enthusiasts of cocksure male renegade icons, car chases, gunfights, explosions and all-purpose carnage will be excited by Richet's magnum opus.


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