Stereotypes die hard.
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.