aka Mesrine: L'instinct de mort / Public Enemy Number One (Part One) / Mesrine: Part 1 - Death Instinct
The first part of a two-part biopic of the real-life French gangster Jacques Mesrine, played by Vincent Cassel in both films. The basic structure will be familiar to fans of gangster films, but the presentation is unusual, employing a number of different shooting styles and some clever use of split-screen effects, all in a very French manner. I was forced to concede that even techniques I dislike had a definite power to them.
Equally powerful is Cassel in the lead role. He's clever, sharp and utterly fearless. He's also charming when he wants to be, but a monster when pushed too far. The film begins in 1979, but jumps back to chart Mesrine's activities in the years 1959 to 1972. It's only part of the story, however, so make sure you have access to Part 2: Public Enemy Number 1 before you even begin.
4 off-the-books jobs out of 5