Mesrine: Killer Instinct (L'instinct de mort) Reviews
Now, I haven't seen enough French films to place valid stereotypes on the entire French film industry, but from the few that I've seen, I would say that these are the stereotypes:
- Extremely gritty and dark. Unafraid to get into every nook and cranny of its dark universe, but doesn't always have emotion, thematic, moralistic, or artistic substance to back up its bold embrace towards the dark.
- Plot points always involve some sort of taboo-breaking violence or sexual act for the sake of shock value and nothing more.
- Almost always a gangster film.
- Focuses so much on realism that artistic value takes a back seat.
"Mesrine: Killer Instinct" matches every stereotype mentioned but considerably fails to immerse audience members in its narrative and characters. It's gritty and bleak, coupled with an emotionally disattached narrative and borderline taboo-breaking violence. I'm all down for dark films -- as a matter of fact, I embrace it. But when a film decides to portray a gritty tone, there's gotta be a reason behind it other than for style. This has been my number one griping issue with many of the French films that I've seen. Killer Instinct is no different, in fact, worse compared to other French movies which leads to my biggest issue with this film: The direction.
Killer Instinct's narrative shoots out in a very linear fashion. Nothing wrong with that, as long as its commanding throughout. As the scenes roll along, I began to realize that Killer Instinct does just that: It shows sequences of events with no opinion, no emotion, no siding, no themes, or no morals. It tells it as it is. In other words, there's zero substance found here other then the portrayal of the actual plot points. As one would probably say, "This is a biopic. It isn't fictionalized and the director isn't trying to add in anything that isn't part of truth." I understand that. Regardless, there's nothing movie-goers could take into account other then the disturbingly soul-blotting violence and the extremely one-dimensional narrative. Let's say the director's choice to be respectful to these actual events didn't bother me -- still doesn't make up the fact that Killer Instinct's narrative is extremely uneven. On certain occasions, tension's boiling at an all-time high, and on other occasions, it becomes dreadfully dull, making me question why I wanted to watch the movie in the first place. If you've heard or read about the true story of Jacque Mesrine, you're not getting any additional insight in this true story if you watch this film. The only thing it may accentuate is the gravity of violence that Mesrine enacted.
Killer Instinct was a complete mess. Direction got increasingly bad, the narrative holds no grounds other then events recorded on a timeline, and the film gives no effort to immerse movie goers. Hey, Vincent Cassel's one beast actor, but even he couldn't lift this film to higher grounds. You can probably say, it was a bad move for him to be involved in this project; he trusted the bad instincts (sorry... horrible pun super intended). Killer Instinct boasts a dark tone with a riveting story, and at moments, you may be sitting at the edge of your seat, but by the end, you'll be wondering what the point of the film was and end up not caring to figure it out. This is one empty film.
This was split into two parts, similar to what was done with Kill Bill and Che, and, like those two, I wouldn't have minded seeing the whole thing all at once instead of having to see one part then wait a bit to see the other. Even though I'm not totally satisfied with how they concluded this part, it does definitely make me thirsty for more.
This portion of the story was based on Mesrine's own writings, so that's cool, and means that there's the chance of more honesty and realism in things, no matter how remarkable or unlikely they seem, such as the way he robs a bank then immediately runs across tthe street to rob another bank. You get some insight into who people are, and some development, but a lot of focus is placed on people doing stuff
That's okay though, because the performances make it all work, especially Cassel (who looks rather spiffy sporting various types of facial hair), Dupuis, and Depardieu. Cecile De France who seems almost too cool and sexy for her own good. Plus, even though the film is mostly people doing stuff, it's really fun and entertaining since that stuff usually consists of armed robbery, kidnapping, or escaping prison.
I know that before he did this director Jean-Francois Richet directed the remake of Assault on Precinct 13, so the man can do action and crime type stuff. I must say though that for whatever reason, whenever this type of movie isn't an American film, it somehow seems more sophisticated, classy, and artistically done. Not that there aren't exceptions to the rule (Mann, Scorsese, Tarantino, etc), but by and large foreign takes on crime cinema just seem to bring some respect that is often missing.
You should check this out. It's got some fine, charismatic performances, fun style, good technique, and some strong music. I can't wait to see part 2.
Overall, sharp directing, solid acting, and a great script, brings this film to life in a vibrant way.
Cassel is a hoot to boot!
Part one "Killer Instinct", covers the early career (1959 - '70) of outlaw Jacques Mesrine (Vincent Cassel), covering his military service in Algeria, apprenticeship with a Paris gang-lord (Gerard Depardieu), crime-spree partnership with soulmate Jeanne (Cecile De France) and escape from a tough Canadian prison.
Being only the first installment of this two-part, 4 hour crime flick. The word 'epic' may spring to mind. Strangely though, it never felt epic to me and I think this was mainly down to it not being about a criminal family but only one individual. However, it's no less effective and has more in common with "Scarface" in Mesrine's one man rise to power or notoriety and "Bonnie & Clyde" for his crime spree with a ladyfriend. What's demanded from it, is also the thing that holds it all together and that's a lead performance of power and charisma. This is where Vincent Cassel comes in. He's absolutely captivating. He commands every bit of the screen with a tour de force show. Being one of the finest actors around at present Cassel can now officially change his name to 'excel' for his portrayal of this dangerous career criminal. Excellent support also from a sadly underused but menacing Gerard Depardieu, who shows great presence and the only one that comes close to Cassel's powerhouse performance.
An exciting fast paced bio-pic that'll have you hooked right from the excellent split-frame opening scene. Worth checking out for Cassel alone.
Can't understand why people could love this. Go watch The Prophet, instead.
Not only has it been a while since such a great gangster film has been released, but this one is so packed with content, you'll think you've been watching it a lot longer than the actual 96 mins for the first part.
This is without doubt Cassell's finest role to date and for me already being such a fan of this Actor, the performance totally blew me away.
Another pleasant surprise was the role played by Depardieu, who was almost unrecognisable in his role and played it rather convincingly.
Once out of the army, his father(Michel Duchaussoy) gets him an honest job but then Mesrine's pal Paul(Gilles Lellouche) comes calling, introducing him to mob boss Guido(Gerald Depardieu). Now, he has even less hope of settling down to lead a normal life. It is at this point that events start steamrolling towards the event the closes the installment wherein Mesrine crosses a line where there is no going back.(Now compare that to the first robbery he takes part in and see how much has changed.) However, even with circumstances working against him, it is impossible to consider Jacques Mesrine a tragic figure. If he is a victim of collateral damage during wartime, then he is not alone, as he has a similar effect on those around him.