Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Mesrine: Killer Instinct (Brockway)

Mesrine: Killer Instinct
Review by Ian Brokway

"Mesrine: Killer Instinct" is the first of a two part epic, detailing the life of super criminal, Jacques Mesrine. Mesrine was billed as "the man of 100 faces" given his penchant for disguises. He was a French celebrity criminal killer on par with Dillinger who his life resembles. "Mesrine" the film, is DePalmaesque. Split screens are frequent along with Pop Art saturations of vivid lighting, turning
most everyone into Warhol portraits of violence. When the film begins, Jacques Mesrine (Vincent Cassell) is a soldier in the French army during the Algerian war. He is ruthless. He kills people. Returning home he is bored by the staid family life. Mesrine's father is practically catatonic and Mesrine himself is an aggressive sociopath, seeming to breathe violence. Mesrine has a hair trigger. His whole body is wired for volatility. He is a callous brute with a movie star face and the rules don't apply to him. He matures in his egotistical bravado and grows ever more vicious.

"Mesrine" is stylish, tough and hardboiled. The director Jean-Francois Richet has an eye for plush imagery and the history of cinema. At certain moments, the film quotes classic styles from "Alien" or "The Clockwork Orange". Yet most strongly, the film owes a debt to Arthur Penn's picaresque "Bonnie and Clyde." Despite
these references, it is the hip cinematography and magazine style gloss, that sets the story apart.

With his Matinee looks and split second escapes by either brutal punch or smirking pistol, Mesrine can be seen as a homicidal Houdini or Indiana Jones. Mesrine's crimes span the globe from France, Canada,Arizona, and off to parts unknown until the next chapter. The end teaser even ends with a Cliff hanger: "As for Jacques Mesrine---The End: Part One."

I myself cannot wait for the next visual canto in this gripping criminal history.

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