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Mesrine Part 2: Public Enemy #1
Year:
2008
Country:
France, Canada
Genre:
Crime, Drama, Thriller, Action, Biography
IMDB rating:
7.5
Director:
Jean-François Richet
Vincent Cassel as Jacques Mesrine
Ludivine Sagnier as Sylvie Jeanjacquot
Mathieu Amalric as François Besse
Gérard Lanvin as Charly Bauer
Samuel Le Bihan as Michel Ardouin
Olivier Gourmet as Le commissaire Broussard
Michel Duchaussoy as Le père de Jacques Mesrine
Myriam Boyer as La mère de Jacques Mesrine
Anne Consigny as L'avocate de Jacques Mesrine
Georges Wilson as Henri Lelièvre
Alain Fromager as Jacques Dallier - journaliste pour Minute
Alain Doutey as Le président du tribunal à Compiègne
Laure Marsac as La journaliste interview
Arsène Mosca as Jojo - un policier
Christophe Vandevelde as Inspecteur Gégé
Luc Thuillier as Le commissaire OCRB / Lucien Aimé-Blanc
Storyline: The story of Jacques Mesrine, France's public enemy No. 1 during the 1970s. After nearly two decades of legendary criminal feats - from multiple bank robberies and to prison breaks.
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Reviews
Maybe I am Dangerous
Greetings again from the darkness. This is part two of director Jean-Francois' tale of famed criminal Jacques Mesrine. As in part one, Vincent Cassel delivers a frightening performance of this psychopath who is addicted to the spotlight, danger, women and little else.

The second film drives home the point that Mesrine was little more than an aggressive hoodlum. What I mean by that is that he was no criminal mastermind. No real strategist. He just steals when he needs money and then quickly helps the press fill in the blanks on his escapades. Watching him swell with pride as he is pronounced France's Public Enemy Number One is just plain creepy.

Ludivine Sagnier (so great in "Swimming Pool") plays Sophie, his last girlfriend. Watching her reaction to her dog being shot in the final shootout tells you all you need know about her and her relationship with Mesrine.

Much of this part is based on the police chases and the efforts put into "catching" Mesrine and his accomplice. His new partner in crime is played by the terrific Mathieu Amalric ("Quantum of Solace", "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly"). Amalric has the steely eyed stare that give him the chops to hang with Cassell.

While I truly admire Cassell's performance in these two films and I find them extremely well made, I still feel a bit empty about the subject matter. Mesrine was a brutally violent criminal who managed 3 daring prison escapes, numerous bank robberies, kidnappings and killings. However, there is just not much depth to the man. Maybe it's true ... some people just want to see the world burn. No matter what, these two films should be seen as close together as possible. This is ONE STORY cut into two pieces. Set aside 4 hours and see the entire thing.
2010-09-06
More of the same high-octane excitement pretending to be a biopic
Naturally this being the second part of a grand (i.e. two-part) biopic, one would expect this film to slow a little, become more operatic, darken and deepen... not a bit of it. This film is, more or less, as exciting as its predecessor. Clearly, the two Mesrine films are a single 200+ min feature chopped judiciously in half.

The problem for me - and there is a significant problem here - is that Mesrine's story is not substantial enough to bear such opulent retelling. That's not to say there's not enough material. Mesrine is nothing if not a series of chapter-sized episodes and this is the manner in which Richet competently tells the story.

Yet when you're being presented with the Nth crime you begin to look for some extraneous purpose to the action. Though there are a number of opportunities to set up dramatic investigation, Mesrine remains a closed book. He's existentially opaque and no further dramatic enquiry is attempted. It's the same way in which John Dillinger's interests can be listed in a single breath, which also disguises itself as a disarming chat-up line.

I have to say that Richet and Cassel are right to have made the film that they did, as Mesrine strikes me as a rather boring thug. Yet this is the country of Jean Genet, voleur of folklore, a socially criminal outsider entertained and lauded by the likes of Jean-Paul Sartre. Surely there was a better subject for their interest than Mesrine? If not then surely the actual existence of Genet or the successful fictional meditation on crime that Patrice Leconte managed with L'Homme du Train would have informed a different manner in which to dramatise Mesrine's story?

Cassel and Richet have set out to make a matinée thriller and succeeded admirably, despite being disingeniously long-winded. It's not really a 'biopic' so much as an action movie that uses the recollections of a charismatic but monodimensional individual. In this half of the film, all the production plaudits pertain to the same crew once again and the new support cast of significance are as solid and nondescript as in Part 1. 7/10
2009-08-02
Part deux
I'm guessing, that you have watched the first part, before you go on and read any reviews about Part 2 of Mesrine. A reviewer wasn't satisfied, because the movie seems like a 200+ min movie cut in half. Well I guess the user is right, but should that affect your rating/how you like the movie?

I don't think so, but then again, you have to make up your own mind. The movie itself is based on the real life character, portrayed greatly by Vincent Cassel. Unfortunately you get reminded quite a few times how this movie will end. Which is OK, for the french audience who already know how the story ended, but for people like me, who didn't know that much about the person, it was kind of a spoiler.

Still even though I knew, what was going to happen, the ending was filled with tension. It is shot and edited in a great manner and kept me on the edge of my (cinema) seat. And even as I was telling myself, that the ending was obvious, I still couldn't stop from being excited. Maybe it's only me, but this deserves your attention, even if it's only on the small screen (TV).
2009-10-29
Why can't biopics go deeper into the childhood?
Mesrine was both a Reniassance man and a sociopath. H cooks wonderfully, loves fine wine and good cigars, as well as fancy women. But he is absolutely ruthless. When he creeps into the hospital to see his dying father, you wonder "What went wrong?" Was the father too strict? Not strict enough? Mesrine obviously had a death wish as he courts his death with flair and imagination.

He loves the media, and is loved in return. Unlike the complicit media who lied about Pat Tillman's death at the hands of members of his own company and infuriated his family, Mesrine and Paris Match are on the same page. To see how gentle he is with the family he takes hostage, and how he doesn't desert the other crook who has been shot in the leg, shows you that this murderer has many facets to his character.

As I looked up the history of the right-wing writer they leave for dead, I was amused to see a video of him from his hospital bed, and he is very handsome, much more so than the bland actor portraying him. Mesrine, au contraire, is much handsomer than the real Mesrine. But , like many movies about famous people, I am left empty wishing there was more substance to the causal factors in his life.

Nonetheless, I am buying both to see again.
2010-09-08
Masterpiece Part 2
Last Month, I commented Mesrine Part One: "L'Instinct de Mort".

Now, there is Part Two.

This movie is as terrific and exciting as the previous one. The characterization as fascinating and poignant too. Cassel gives here his best performance ever. Whatever he will do in the future, he will never do better. He has reached here the top of his career.

I'll just describe one sequence. Somewhere the equivalent of the one I gave you for the previous chapter. Remember, when Cassel and Depardieu took a woman protector - an Arab - for a "ride" in their car.

Here, in this movie, Cassel and his anarchist, revolutionary and extreme left winged friend Lanvin - Charlie Bauer - take a journalist for a ride in their car, too. An extreme right winged one. A fascist. So, when the journalist in question tells the two men that the Algerians deserved to be killed in Paris, in 1961, and thrown in the Seine by Papon's policemen, don't miss Lanvin's eyes in the rear mirror. Don't miss his face. Especially when you already know that Lanvin -Bauer - fought for free Algeria, and that he hates fascists to the death.

At this moment, you understand that this journalist - who also told in his papers that Mesrine was a traitor for his friends and a coward too - was going to live some "difficult" moments...

So delicious to witness in the audience, I mean.

And about the very ending, the last shot of this film, I promise that every one in the theatre stays still some minutes afterwards. Stroke by lightning. Even if every one is prepared for it.
2008-11-24
The Legend of Mesrine: A Bizarre Cult
MESRINE: PUBLIC ENEMY #1 is a sequel, or actually Part II of MESRINE: KILLER INSTINCT. It is important to note this fact because for the casual viewer who picks up this DVD first there will w a lot of background story missing. Apparently there is somewhat of a cult of Mesrine devotees, so powerful was his image as the most devious criminal of the 1960s -1970s in France. Or perhaps it is the media that makes criminals like Charles Manson, Bonnie and Clyde, John Gotti, Al Capone, John Dillinger etc etc 'heros' to the public. But if examining the lives of such beings entertains you then this film may register.

Apparently the first film in this biopic showed the development of Jacques Mesrine (Vincent Cassel) as he becomes a bank robber, kidnapper, jail breaker, etc, but this film starts with Mesrine in court form which he escapes and then proceeds to rob banks and kill people and eventually end up believing in his own grandeur as Public Enemy #1. The film was written by Abdel Raouf Dafri and director Jean-François Richet who obviously are more concerned with setting up ambushes and escapes and robberies than with character development. The is one well-written scene in the film - Mesrine sneaking into a hospital where his father (Michel Duchaussoy) is dying that is true drama, but the rest is rather uncontrolled raucous crime. Vincent Cassel is such a fine actor that he is able to bring to life this atrocious character (having not seen Part 1 leaves any advantage that film may have given to his character development and why this actor suddenly has a beer gut, etc). He is abetted by Ludivine Sagnier as his pickup girlfriend Sylvia, Mathieu Almaric (another very fine French actor) as his accomplice François Besse, Samuel Le Bihan, Gérard Lanvin, Olivier Gourmet, and Georges Wilson.

The film is overly long (133 minutes) to tolerate all action/no story, but one factor remains: Vincent Cassel's performance is intriguing, right up to his grisly death scene. Not for the faint of heart or for viewers who appreciate a script with a story.

Grady Harp
2011-04-27
The conclusion of French gangster Jacques Mesrine's story
After escaping from the authorities in Quebec Mesrine is back in France but he hasn't retired from a life of crime; he is still robbing banks and after escaping from court once again is declared 'Public Enemy Number One'. When caught again he vows to escape and a few years later he does just that. On the run with fellow escapee François Besse they calmly go into Deauville police station claiming to be police from Paris so they can determine what they will be up against before robbing a casino! This time it looks as if half the police in France are after them but they get away by taking a family hostage... then paying them for the trouble. After they split up; Jacques returns to Paris where he meets the beautiful Sylvie. He also meets up with old friend Charly Bauer, who is now a revolutionary. More crimes and mayhem follow until the film end just the way part one began; with Mesrine and Sylvie driving through Paris until gunmen opened fire on their car... this time though we learn who it was that shot him and whether he or Sylvie survived.

If you've not seen the first part of this story yet it is advisable to watch it first as that provides the necessary introduction to Mesrine; no time is wasted here introducing him again. This may be based on a true story but it is just as exciting as most fictional thrillers in not more so... many events that occur would seem far-fetched in a work of fiction but what we see here really happened! That of course can be a problem too; Mesrine is a charismatic character but he can also be brutal and knowing certain events really happened is disturbing; this is particularly true in the scene where he beats and then shoots a journalist. As in the first film actor Vincent Cassel gives a brilliant performance as Jacques Mesrine and he is ably supported by the likes of Ludivine Sagnier and Mathieu Amalric who play Sylvie and François respectively. There are some extremely brutal moments but if you can get through those this pair of films make a gripping story that I wouldn't hesitate to recommend to adult viewers.
2012-07-18
"The Legend"/"Public Enemy No. 1": the self-destructive exploitation of the image
Part 2 is more episodic than Part 1, but it has several unifying elements: the relationships with a notable accomplice, the quiet, secretive, but equally bold Francois Besse (Matthieu Amalric); with his last and perhaps most romantic girlfriend, Sylvie Jeanjacquot (Ludivine Sagier); and, after a special "anti-Mesrine cell" has been created just to track him down, with the police manhunt that ends his life. Their code name for him is simply "le grand," the Big One. Above all the film now has an overriding focus on Mesrine's growing public identity, which he consciously shapes. This grows out of the energetic theatricality of Vincent Cassel's performance. There are various scenes of Mesrine "performing" in a police station (where Part Two begins); for journalists of high-circulation weeklies; in court; robbing banks; and for the world at large. If there was once a discernible difference between his public and private life, it has disappeared now that he's assumed arch-gangster status. Cassel literally takes on volume, having put on 45 pounds for this part of the role. His character is solid, confident, and aware of his public image at all times, and with his inflated self-importance, he redefines himself as some kind of savior of the common man from the tyranny of the banks and the bourgeoisie. Various more sophisticated thinkers try to explain to him that the banks aren't the problem, and that robbing them doesn't alter the system and perhaps reinforces its importance.

As Part 2 begins, the now notorious gangster has made his way back to France. Spectacularly, Mesrine and another accomplice escape by holding up a Compiègne courtroom where he's about to be put on trial, taking the judge hostage on the way out. This segment is told in flashback: the gangster is telling his story to the cops after getting caught. He is subsequently furious to learn that the dictator Pinochet has seized page one of the newspapers by being apprehended, and pushed him out. He immediately demands a typewriter and begins to write his first autobiography, L'Instinct de mort (Death Instinct) to gain more attention.

But we also see Mesrine concealing his now more prominent public identity by assuming a series of disguises. He dresses up as a doctor to visit his dying father in a hospital and say goodbye. ("Why are you here?" his dad asks. "Well," answers Jacky, "all the banks were closed. . .") He not only gives Paris Match an important interview, but (in a sequence of excessive violence) tracks down, tortures and murders right-wing journalist Jacques Dallier (Alain Fromager), who enraged Mesrine by having written a piece for the journal Minute calling him a "dishonorable crook" and claiming he has "betrayed" his associates. And we see Mesrine operating through the medium of his attorney (Anne Consigny, of The Diving Bell and the Butterfly and A Christmas Tale), who risks her career by helping him get pistols for yet another of his escapes--one that includes fording a river and passing a police roadblock in a farmer's Peugeot.

This time, he escapes with the reserved, suspicious François Besse (Matthieu Amalric), who, like him, has already escaped from prisons three times before and is treated as a celebrity by prison guards. Besse is a sharp contrast to the flamboyant Mesrine and thinks him foolish and mad, though like everyone else, he respects his courage and audacity. The two men rob the Deauville gambling casino's coffers, posing as inspectors to get in. But before that at Mesrine's instigation they pose as Paris cops checking on the local police headquarter's duty roster, to find out when the station is least well-manned. Besse is uneasy about such bold maneuvers, but even more, questions Mesrine's talking to 'Paris-Match' and claiming he's a revolutionary. But it's the late Seventies, the time of the Aldo Moro kidnapping in Rome.

After hearing about the Red Brigades and the Badder Meinhof, Mesrine tells Besse he wants to attack maximum security prisons, in the same way that he went back and attacked the Guantanamo-like Special Corrections Unit in Quebec. The film tells us the SCU's malpractices were ended as a result of Mesrine's exposure of them after his escape. Meanwhile, he persuades Besse to help him kidnap Henri Lelièvre (Georges Wilson), a millionaire Paris slumlord, for ransom, telling the slumlord he represents the PLO. This is another exploit that doesn't go as planned, but leads to a bold escape.

For a while Mesrine connects with Charles Bauer (Gérard Lanvin), an out-and-out radical, and it's with him that he traps and snuffs the right-wing journalist. Bauer in particular debunks Mesrine's claims of being a revolutionary.

The two-film diptych is bookended with the final police shootout in Paris traffic at the Place de Clignancourt that kills Mesrine with Sylvie Jeanjacquot and her little dog at his side, after he has used the slumlord's money to buy her a lot of diamond jewelry and himself a luxury model brown BMW. This is a convention of the genre--the bookending with a final showdown--but the way it's expanded in the finale of Part Two shows both films' fine sense of detail. Olivier Gourmet, among so many others, excels as Commissioner Broussard, head of the anti-Mesrine unit whose operatives are so terrified when the short, now overweight Mesrine walks by where they're hiding.

'L'ennemi public nº 1' had a November 19, 2008 theatrical release in France. It is part of the Rendez-Vous with French Cinema at Lincoln Center, March 2009.
2009-02-23
Some modern French mythology (reviews the two parts)
This two-part film is good in the way it doesn't only show the charisma of Mesrine (which is the main cause of his myth in France I think), but also his extreme violence and how he was just a "rabid dog" taking political causes to satisfy this violence. Still Mesrine remains fascinating by his level of boldness and how he just failed French and Canadian states in dealing with him. This is maybe a part of my punkness which appreciates this boldness but I think this is why people found him charismatic: he was defying institution and was quite efficient doing it. An anthropological insight in the French mind somewhat!
2010-09-22
Vincent Cassel great
In 1973, Jacques Mesrine (Vincent Cassel) is back in France with a new robbery crew and new girlfriend Sylvia Jeanjacquot (Ludivine Sagnier). They are arrested but he escapes during court. He continues his criminal activities until police detective Broussard tracks him down. He's finally put in prison. He reconnects with his daughter and writes a book about his exploits. He befriends fellow inmate François Besse (Mathieu Amalric) and with others, escapes once again. He starts courting the media as a revolutionary. He kidnaps billionaire Henri Lelièvre and finally in 1979, he is gunned down in an ambush.

Vincent Cassel is great. This is a string of chaos and crimes. It's insane that he keeps escaping. It's violence and crimes without relief. It's not really a glossy crime drama but it does not let up. Again like Part 1, I would suggest a better medium for the material would be television. It allows the characters to breathe and the story to build.
2016-07-21
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