June 1, 2013

Mesrine: Public Enemy #1

Jean-Francois Richet, 2008

          Part Two of the Mesrine films (sequel to Killer Instinct), Public Enemy #1 is a continuation of the story of Jacques Mesrine. Mesrine continues to elude police, successfully rob banks, and uses his quick-wit and charm to attract beautiful women. 
          A satisfying and consistent sequel to the original. While Part one possessed more story, Part two certainly provides more action. The film jumps head-first into the action within the first twenty minutes. Very effective, erratic cinematography through suspenseful street-chases. Vincent Cassel continues to be chameleonic in his role, with his mood changing as quickly as his disguises. Mesrine, who is consumed by the fame, becomes complacent with it. His hunger grows for something MORE than notoriety, something more than glory. His unpredictable, violent nature becomes radicalized and begins to shift into a more political mind-set. His ideals shift from anti-establishment to a more anarchistic motivation. He even turns on the press, the one loyal force that had always embraced him. But the women on the other hand, always embrace him. His charismatic abilities have a magnetic ability with the women who are looking for the bad-boy. It takes him little time to seduce Sylvia Jeanjacquot, even in disguise.
          The final moments are a book-end conclusion, with an expected call-back to the opening scene in Part One. The fact that it's seen in a different perspective gives it a fresh feeling. Mesrine is the "French Robin Hood", "The Man of  Hundred Faces". In the end it's quite clear that he was a danger to society, a clear sociopath. But the fascination with a notorious criminal is clearly a global phenomenon. 

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