Mesrine: Public Enemy No. 1

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The ViewAuckland Review

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Review byMatthew Turner22/06/2009

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 113 mins

Every bit as gripping as Mesrine: Killer Instinct, this is an extremely enjoyable, terrifically directed gangster thriller with a stunning performance from Vincent Cassel.

What's it all about?
Directed by Jean-Francois Richet, Mesrine: Public Enemy No. 1 picks up shortly after the events of Mesrine: Killer Instinct, with Mesrine staging a daring courtroom escape by kidnapping a judge at gunpoint. Declared public enemy number one, Mesrine is soon captured by his dogged pursuer Commander Broussard (Olivier Gourmet), who he welcomes with Champagne at the door of the flat he's holed up in.

Mesrine is subsequently thrown into a maximum security prison, where he writes the first volume of his memoirs, but it isn't long before he stages yet another daring escape, aided by fellow inmate Francois Besse (Mathieu Amalric); the pair subsequently disappear into the criminal underworld, along with Mesrine's latest lover Sylvia (Ludivine Sagnier). Taunting the police through his manipulation of the media (for example, granting an interview with Paris Match, despite being the subject of a country-wide manhunt), Mesrine and his accomplices also pull the occasional kidnap job in the style of the Baader-Meinhof Group. However, Broussard is hard on his heels and determined to bring Mesrine in, dead or alive.

The Good
Mesrine: Public Enemy No. 1 is every bit as exciting as the first film, not least because of a brilliantly suspenseful prison break sequence, which is followed, jaw-droppingly, by a disastrous attack on the same prison 15 days later, because Mesrine gave his word that he'd be back for his fellow inmates. Indeed, the events of Mesrine's life are so mind-boggling that you'd swear they'd all been made up, but, incredibly, they all turn out to be true.

The Great
Cassel is nothing short of sensational as Mesrine and fans of extravagant facial hair will be delighted to know that there's just as much of it in the second film (not for nothing was Mesrine dubbed The Man With A Thousand Faces). There's also terrific support from Amalric, Sagnier and Gourmet.

Worth seeing?
Hugely entertaining, superbly directed and brilliantly acted, Mesrine: Public Enemy No. 1 ranks up there with the best of its American equivalents. Highly recommended.

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Content updated: 20/07/2019 09:41

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