Having watched half of Mathieu Kassovitz's La haine on TV, I hesitated to buy this DVD, which also starred Vincent Cassel. I didn't like La haine because it was too violent - too honest, probably, and turned off my TV after trying to watch it for 30 minutes. I finally bought Mesrine because I got good price on it. I do not regret it. I have seen several movies with Vincent Cassel, but in Mesrine, he is very impressive - and this is the best movie with him I've seen.
This is biopic of Jacques Mesrine, a famous gangster in France and Canada in the 60's - 70's. After serving as a soldier in Algiers, he returned to France and became a regular in nightclubs, where perhaps he got the idea to make easy money and started to rob banks. He became notorious after escaping from prison 3 times, including those with so-called maximum security.
This movie consists of 2 parts: 1) L'instinct de mort, where we see the beginning of why he becomes what he is, his marriage with Sofia who gives him 3 kids, his adventure with Jeanne Schneider in Canada and how he breaks the prison in Canada (great scene!) and returns in a crazy attempt to free his mates like he has promised. 2)L'ennemi public n°1, where Mesrine teams up with François Besse, whom he breaks prison with, and after Besse left, with Charly Bauer, a radical. The last of the movie is very riveting - showing how Commissaire Broussard ends Mesrine's adventure. Mesrine was known as a honest gangster, means his friends can count on him. In both parts, the sympathy for him was drained after he killed two gamekeepers (in the end of part 1 - so there was no way back) and in part 2 after he almost murdered the Minute journalist.
The DVD features the making of, which I think very interesting. Jean-François Richet, the director, wants this movie as true as possible, except one time in the scene of Mesrine & Jeanne's arrest in America, where he moved the scene from Arkansas to Arizona, for a wonderful shot of Grand Canyon as background. The real Charly Bauer was hired as technical advisor and in the scene with journalist Jacques Dallier in the cave, Bauer explained to the team what happened in details - which the team reconstructed to Bauer's satisfaction. Dallier was stripped off, handcuffed, beaten and shot in the head, but he survived. Vincent Cassel asked Bauer if he should take the handcuffs off before leaving the cave, but Bauer said that Mesrine had not - so they let the handcuffs stayed. Charly Bauer was happy that his part was played by Gérard Lanvin.