Public Enemy Number One
Viewed – 27 Jan 2010 Blu-ray
Set a few years after the climax of Killer Instinct, we meet Jacques Mesrine (Vincent Cassel) now more of a celebrity and outlaw than the gangster, understudy of the past. Mesrine is now his own man, and is once again committing bank robberies, living life on the edge and getting his name in the press. It’s not long though before he’s back in court, awaiting sentencing and charming the pants off the jury. Yet his crimes are undeniable, and even though he escapes custody several times, he’s eventually banged up and looking at a twenty year stretch, where he pens an autobiography and befriends an inmate with plans of escaping once again.
Vincent Cassel’s portrayal this time around of this larger-than-life character is much more showy and charismatic, bringing to life a criminal you can’t help but admire, despite the ability to cold-bloodedly execute a reporter, turn against the women in his life or alienate himself from friends due to outlandish scheme after outlandish scheme. You get the impression that Mesrine had ideas very much above his station, and as he began to believe his own hype, you realise his days are numbered.
Jean-François Richet’s energetic and (surprisingly) even more entertaining follow-up to Killer Instinct is every bit as well executed as that movie, and is packed with powerful performances and edge-of-the-seat tension. This time around the man behind the myth is more thoroughly explored, and scenes such as the prison visit from his daughter show the emotion and the good person behind the bravado. It’s obvious Mesrine was not an evil man, and as an exploration of not just a criminal but as a person, this one can not be faulted.
Verdict: 5 /5