Mesrine: Killer Instinct (L'instinct de mort) - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Mesrine: Killer Instinct (L'instinct de mort) Reviews

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½ October 11, 2014
This is part 1 of the epic tale about Public Enemy N. 1 in France during the 1960s and 1970s, Jacques Mesrine. Vincent Cassel plays Mesrine with powerful conviction, really getting into the skin of the man that started out his criminal career robbing houses and banks, kidnapping millionaires, not only in France but also in Canada. Gérard Depardieu as Guido, the Godfather-like figure in the story, is excellent as ever, and despite the fact that the movie has some slight changes in tone from time to time, is a very watchable thriller, with a very exciting moment almost at the end (the prison break sequence is fantastic).
½ September 29, 2014
This is one of those films that you will hate to love the protagonist. I thought Richet's screenplay is tremendous. But everything happens so fast while you adore Cassel's superb potrayal of Mesrine.
½ September 19, 2014
Dismally uneven, the life of French gangster Jacques Mesrine flashes vividly before our eyes in a series of barely connected segments covering a span of 13 years in just over 100 minutes. The editing is tight, but the narrative lacks any sense of fluency, making the film feel like little more than a montage, or worse, a 100 minute trailer for a much longer and much more satisfying film. While slightly entertaining at parts, Mesrine ultimately fails as dramatic storytelling and falls woefully short of any serious or lasting artistic depth.
½ August 15, 2014
Bang. Blood trickles down. Groovy early seventies styling abounds as we're treated to split-screen views of a swarthy French bloke with a comedy moustache. Shit goes down.
Pow. Algeria 1959. French bloke with a slightly different comedy moustache has to shoot some Algerian woman but shoots her husband instead.

Wallop. Real France 1960. French bloke with another slightly different comedy moustache is a bit cheesed off to be living back at his parents but luckily is thrown straight into a world of open top sports cars, saucy strumpets, unquenchable cigarettes and multiple comedy moustaches by his not quite as French chum. Meets Andre the Giant.
Kapow. Spain 1961. Saucy Spanish sorts have no answer to the charming advances of swarthy French bloke with a slightly different comedy moustache. Spanish sort is soon with child.

And the beat goes on. More of the same, skipping time, people, places, unfiltered Gitanes and lascivious leer permanently in place, Mesrine launching headfirst into ever more ludicrous escapades. At one point he even grows a beard but soon thinks better of it and grows another slightly different comedy moustache.

I know I'm yet to see vol. 2 but I'm ever so slightly surprised at the amount of praise this received on release. I know it's an enjoyable romp and all but change the smart suits for tracksuits, the slightly different comedy moustaches for sparser, chavvier affairs and is the film really that different from any of those Nick Love/Danny Dyer pieces? There's no real depth to it, not much in the way of rhyme or reason, but Cassell, Andre, various strumpets and the vast array of comedy moustaches mean there's far worse ways you could spend an hour and a half on a filthy winter's evening
August 3, 2014
Very good biopic of an interesting gangster. His story is quite remarkable even if we don't know how much of it is true. Vincent Cassel plays him excellently.
Super Reviewer
½ July 22, 2014
Killer Instinct is the story of notorious criminal Jacques Mesrine who progressed from petty crime on the streets of Paris to become Canada's public enemy number one. Kind of like a Gallic Goodfellas, Mesrine is based on a real gangster and similarly spans decades of his life. Vincent Cassel puts in a quality performance as the charismatic psychopath who became a media sensation in the early 1970s and although he is hardly the most likeable protagonist, his outlandish acts are consistently both entertaining to watch and quite incredible to believe. There are some quality set pieces, the scene in which he and his partner single-handedly attack a maximum security prison in which they were both tortured is a particular highlight. It is a little episodic and it lacks the depth of characterisation that draws you fully into this kind of life story, but it is always exciting to watch and I am very much looking forward to Part Two.
July 13, 2014
One of the finest gangster films to ever hit the big screen. Cassel gives an electrifying performance.
June 24, 2014
The French version of Scarface
May 31, 2014
Solid gangster flick
April 28, 2014
Directed by Jean-François Richet, (All About Love (2001) and Assault on Precinct 13 (2005)), and produced by Thomas Langmann (The Artist (2011)). This was the first part of this two part crime thriller which told the story of a criminal who became known as the French Scarface. While it came out at a time when there was a lot of European crime dramas, this one proves to be effective. The film follows the life of Jacques Mesrine (Vincent Cassel), who was a soldier of the French Army during the Algerian War in 1959. After he is discharged, he goes back to live with his parents (Michel Duchaussoy and Myriam Boyer), and ends up working with old schoolfriend Paul (Gilles Lellouche), who has ties with mob boss Guido (Gérard Depardieu). So Mesrine turns to crime, and gets into trouble with the law, but after meeting Jeanne Schneider (Cécile De France), and in 1968, they move to Montreal, Canada. There, Mesrine ends up in jail for kidnapping a local billionaire (Gilbert Sicotte), and Mesrine escapes from a maximum security prison. It's a very good crime thriller, and Cassel excels as the thuggish criminal who has a Robin Hood complexion about him. It captures the eras it's set in well, and all of it is true, and how Mesrine escapes from prison in Canada is unbelievable, and it sets the scene well for Part 2 of what was to come.
April 8, 2014
Jacques Mesrine became Public Enemy Number One after successfully kidnapping a millionaire for ransom. He also robbed numerous banks and broke out of maximum security prison. This is but the first of two movies based off the French gangster anti-hero, and focuses on his life up until just after he broke out of prison. Much like other bio-movies, the plot skips across time like a stone, covering the major and most exciting points of his life. The difference here is the level of attachment the viewer may have for the subject. By only grazing a man's life in two or three hours, you leave much to the wayside, which creates an incomplete picture. But the producers of Mesrine chose to make two 2-hour movies, which may still only focus on highlights, but makes for a much more in depth experience. I can't wait to start watching the next installment
March 24, 2014
Vincent Cassel's electrifying performance will chill you to the bone!
March 23, 2014
Way too scattered and through the motions for me to be invested. Didn't finish. Despite this, the cast is great and the directing is perfectly fine.
Super Reviewer
March 16, 2014
The first of the two part "Mesrine" films, this is much more of an introduction into the life of the titular character than it is a true crime biopic. It shows the life leading up to his infamous prison break and subsequent crime spree. Real life criminal Jacques Mesrine led a long and interesting life, starting in the French Army, stationed in Algiers. With the army training him in torture and murder, Mesrine rose through the ranks of the criminal elite early, embracing friends and colleagues in order to become a petty thief and armed robber. Throughout the film we see Mesrine struggle with trying to keep his family together, and when he becomes unemployed, we see the destructive rage and violence he can enact on his loved ones. There's very little empathy or understanding in Vincent Cassel's performance as the troubled crook, hell-bent on sustaining himself through crime. Not only that but he is a survivor of a corrupt prison, a runaway, a thief, and a madman. Throughout the film we see the steady incline from low level criminal to the raving hellion he comes to be. Great performances from the women of the film as well, including Anaya as his beaten down wife, and De France as his companion Jeanne, following him on a spree through the United States after a foiled kidnapping in Canada. The plot moves quite fast, so some life events feel hurried and not completely covered, which is to make room for the impending sequel, "Public Enemy # 1." Though I don't think this should have been a two part film, it's very interesting, and all performances are crisp, never even tempered, and awash in gritty violence. This man is beyond interesting, both a rogue maniac and a survivor in most respects, making this a great watch.
February 8, 2014
Cassel is fierce and intense. He does a great job. The production value is high! But suddenly you realize there's not much story. It's the same over and over again, he robs and robs, and it does actually get a bit boring. But it's an interesting era and full of great moments and performances.
January 17, 2014
Mesrine: Killer Instinct is part of the story of Jacques Mesrine, the infamous French criminal from the 60â?²s and 70â?²s that was best known for escaping prison and pulling off every crime in the book.
January 12, 2014
Vincent Cassel plays French gangster Jacques Mesrine in this first part bio-pic.
Starting in the army where he is made to torture and murder Algerians he fails to reconnect to home life and slides willingly into crime.
Centring around that late60/early70 intersection of alternative culture and crimi8nality the film is very convincing for the most part.
The story moves through Canada and the USA and whilst far from perfect especially in how the time flies by in parts, Cassel is single-handedly worth watching.
Now all I have to do is find part 2.
December 29, 2013
It's a nice addition to the gangster genre with its thrilling action and Vincent Cassel's sinister performance, but the story is still uneven.
December 22, 2013
I had no idea the French can make such good gangster movies. Two thumbs up (at least for Part 1).
Super Reviewer
½ October 17, 2013
Mesrine: Killer Instinct is one of the best crime dramas that I've seen in quite some time. The film is based on the real life of Jacques Mesrine, a notorious French bank robber and murderer who became France's Public Enemy Number One. the film which stars Vincent Cassel in the lead role is phenomenal and looks like the real guy. The film tells about his rise in crime, and how he became one of the most wanted criminals in France's history. Gerard Depardieu also stars and both men are terrific in the film. Mesrine is an accomplished Crime film that is only rivaled by Martin Scorsese's finest genre films. The film is riveting in its execution, and the performances are top notch. With this first part of Mesrine's story, we get to see why he was revered by the public, but really he was a cold blooded criminal that was a menace to society. Director Jean-Francois Richet crafts a stunning gangster film that will delight genre fans. The film is raw, gritty and ugly. Mesrine was not a figure to admire, and director Richet captures that aspect perfectly. Brilliantly told, and with a strong performance in the lead role, Mesrine: Killer Instinct is a taught drama that never glamorizes the exploits of the infamous Jacques Mesrine. If you enjoy the genre, give this film a shot, you will surely enjoy it. I found the film to be very entertaining and well executed. Crime films are hard to do, mostly because the ideas tend to be overly clichéd and slightly predictable. However here, since this film is based on real events, it makes for a highly engaging film going experience that is unflinching because the story of Jacques Mesrine is quite interesting, and this film, along with its second half strips away the Robin Hood quality that the Press of the era gave him.
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