Thursday, 20 August 2009
REVIEW: Mesrine: Killer Instinct
I'm beginning to think that biopics split into to two parts with each over two hours in length maybe a bad idea. Che potentially had a good movie in there somewhere but got bogged down in its own indulgent bulk. Mesrine is the second recent movie to try its hand at this two par system, and although I've only seen the first part of this so far, I don't think this is set to shape up much better. The same problems are here, although Mesrine tries much harder to be entertaining. And in places it is, but for the most part its a cliched rags to riches Scarface like story of Gangster ascension. It does really nothing that new, and Mesrine the character is one we've definitely seen before in these kinds of movies. It plays everything quite broad and predictable, with decidedly little interest in character or coherency but it handles its moments of shocking violence relatively well and picked the right leading man in Vincent Cassel. He plays Mesrine as the idiotic hard-headed thug that he was, and to be fair the movie isn't entirely on his side. Director Jean-Francois Richet seems to be mostly interested in making an action movie, and revels in both the violence and the gunplay the movie has to offer, sometimes at the expense of the performances and narrative. Cassel is good enough and his performance certainly captures the aggression of the man, Cecile De France's Jeanne is a bit of an afterthought, her character somewhat forced into proceedings and rarely given the chance to be anything more then foil to Cassel. Gerard Depardieu does his criminal fatcat relatively well, but I've not seen him look anything less then bored fifteen years.
The movie is OK, its a functional film to be sure and if you've never seen a gangster movie in your life you'll be amazed. But this story does not warrant four hours of film and it dragged a little even in this first half. A charismatic leading man isn't everything and if this film were in English it wouldn't be given the critical time of day.