Bopping with Niall JP O'Leary

Niall O'Leary insists on sharing his hare-brained notions and hysterical emotions. Personal obsessions with cinema, literature, food and alcohol feature regularly.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Mesrine: Killer Instinct

Mesrine: Killer InstinctMesrine: Killer Instinct - Thank God for the French

After kiddie hour(s) with Tarantino, I treated myself to more adult fare this afternoon, taking in 'Mesrine: Killer Instinct'. Telling the story of France's public enemy number 1, and one of Europe's foremost celebrity crooks, it charts his development from being a soldier in Algeria in 1959 to his eventual death in 1979. It does it in a vigorous, disciplined way with as much attention to character as to the robberies and escapes that made his name.
I am not a fan of Vincent Cassel who usually chews up more scenery than a Fianna Fail sponsored road project. Having said that his take on French gangster Jacques Mesrine is reasonably well-restrained. The film too, the first part of a two film biopic, is coherent, unrelenting and unforgiving. If this man is to be a celebrity crook who ultimately wins our sympathy, then pushing a gun in his wife's mouth gives him a very bad start. What comes across most is the complexity of the character. Yes, he has good, and indeed charming, points; he's funny, loyal and even loving. But he was a successful gangster for a reason and the dark side of his personality is ever present.
In the acting stakes, mention should also be made of Gerard Depardieu, another actor who often acts larger than life. He is admirably subdued here as Mesrine's boss and mentor, Guido, and all the more threatening for it.
The action is handled expertly, his treatment in and escape from a Canadian prison being especially well done. There is style in the use of split screen and glamour in the globetrotting camera. Be warned though that this film is only the first part and it goes so quickly that the end is too abrupt crying out for part two. I'm certainly waiting for it.

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