Generally favorable reviews - based on 23 Critics What's this?

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Universal acclaim- based on 16 Ratings

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  • Starring: , ,
  • Summary: Mesrine: Killer Instinct introduces us to Jacques Mesrine, a loyal son and dedicated soldier back home and living with his parents after serving in the Algerian War. Soon he is seduced by the neon glamour of sixties Paris and the easy money it presents. Mentored by Guido (Gerald Depardieu) Mesrine turns his back on middle class law-abiding and soon moves swiftly up the criminal ladder. After pulling off an audacious heist he and his lover Jeanne (Cecile de France) flee to Canada where the opportunity of one big payout lures him out of hiding and propels his towards international notoriety. (Music Box Films)
  • Director: Jean-François Richet
  • Genre(s): Action, Biography, Drama, Thriller, Crime
  • Rating: R
  • Runtime: 113 min
  • More Details and Credits »
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 17 out of 23
  2. Negative: 0 out of 23
  1. The films never lose sight of Mesrine the man, a fascinating character in that he's brutal yet extremely intelligent, has a skewed but discernible conscience, and, under the right circumstances, can be warm and generous.
  2. Reviewed by: Roger Moore
    Jan 19, 2011
    Cassel's performance...the best reason to see this, one of the best French (In French with English subtitles) crime thrillers of the new millennium.
  3. 83
    The film is big and sprawling and moves with fiery energy -- there's little or no exposition or explanation between scenes or episodes, yielding a breakneck pace.
  4. While Mesrine: Killer Instinct certainly deserves a place among memorable French gangster films, Richet never delivers a clear theme here, let alone a plot.
  5. 70
    Mesrine was no more a movie star than John Dillinger was, but both men could dream, and Cassel catches the folly of such dreaming, with its blasts of thuggery and its rare flashes of style, as neatly as anyone since Warren Oates took the title role of "Dillinger," in 1973.
  6. 67
    Cassel is convincing and riveting as Mesrine, which helps balance out the film's problematic slick shallowness and disconnects.
  7. 50
    Richet proves maddeningly loath to edit his material, and his charismatic star, Vincent Cassel, does not delve deep into the character.

See all 23 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 4 out of 4
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 4
  3. Negative: 0 out of 4
  1. Jul 7, 2012
    It's a great little history lesson. The movie is certainly implausible except for the fact that it is all based quite closely on the real life b#$tard. For all of his repugnance you still must watch to see how he pulls this all off and how it might all end. If there's an overarching persistent flaw it is the way the movie surveys his life and crimes and never once even tries to dig into some pithy look at motivation. Still, very entertaining. Expand
  2. Sep 3, 2010
    Riveting, action packed crime drama, with a mesmerizing performance by Vincent Cassel as Mesrine, the legendary French criminal. Amazed that I didn't know anything about this movie before I walked into the theatre, was glued to my seat for two hours, didn't want to chance missing anything for popcorn or a trip to the bathroom. Last hour of the movie superior to the first, detailing his burgeoning violence, his desire to defy the authorities at any cost, and his notorious infamy. That is except for its see you later ending which was rather abrupt and awkward. But can't wait to see Part Two. Expand
  3. Sep 27, 2011
    Il y a une ambiance à l'américaine dans cette première partie de Mesrine. Cette dernière se montre assez noire, tendue et palpitante. Tout ce qui peut manquer à un film français en fin de compte! Et on peut dire que Mesrine - L'Instinct de Mort est une véritable surprise car il n'est pas un simple biopic pompeux mais bien un polar superbement mis en scène et interprété à la perfection (Vincent Cassel au sommet, mais n'oublions pas Gérard Depardieu, Cécile de France, Gilles Lellouche...). Dommage cependant que les scènes s'enchaînent à un rythme (trop) effréné, à cause d'un scénario qui abuse des ellipses et d'un montage quelque peu brouillon. De ce fait, on a l'impression de passer à côté de beaucoup de choses vécues par Mesrine. Mais pour qu'un film français soit enfin de cette envergure, on ne va pas cracher dessus! Expand
  4. Aug 28, 2010
    The lead actor is excellent, and he's just repugnant enough that you're not rooting for him like you'd typically root for the bad guy in a movie like this. The supporting actors are uniformly outstanding. Even though I knew this is part one of two, it really ends rather abruptly - almost like they produced both parts to be seen back-to-back with a short intermission. I'll certainly see part 2, despite the fact that it's pretty clear how it will all turn out from the directors use of the uroboros. Expand