Saturday, January 15, 2011

Mesrine: Killer Instinct

There's a lot crammed into these two hours. Like KILL BILL, MESRINE: KILLER INSTINCT is actually the first in a series of two movies that were released in quick succession. KILLER INSTINCT, being the first, is the origin story of Jacques Mesrine, a real-life criminal, and based on the autobiography he wrote during a stretch in prison.

The pacing of KILLER INSTINCT is fast. We see Jacques' criminal activity escalate with every new endeavor. The wife and family he seemed to love so dearly take a back seat to Mesrine's involvement with the criminal underworld. One gets the impression that Jacques really does love his wife and children but that there is something else inside of him, a need to strike out violently, a need to live a completely unconventional life, that will always make them secondary to armed robbery and murder. This complexity works so well in part due to the excellent performance by Vincent Cassel. Cassel's Mesrine, as an unsavory a character as you're likely to find, exudes charm and purpose, and for that you cannot help but to root for him.

There is a rather long prison sequence in which Mesrine is subject to the cruelty of the warden and guards. He vows to escape and before long does. In what has got to be one of the boldest moves in history, Mesrine and another former prisoner launch an attack on the prison in an attempt to make good on a promise to come back and free the remaining prisoners. They are two men in a pickup truck, albeit heavily armed, waging war against teams of snipers clustered in the guard towers. While they are unable to free the prisoners, Mesrine and his accomplice escape with only a few bullet wounds.

I sat contentedly, knowing there was another movie's worth of Mesrine right around the corner. I could go for another six hours of this, easily, I told myself. The acting is top-notch (and features a dude that it took fifteen minutes for me to realize was Gerard Depardieu,) the story gripping, and the action riveting. There was never any question in my mind that what was to come wouldn't live up to my expectations.

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