Metascore
71

Generally favorable reviews - based on 23 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 17 out of 23
  2. Negative: 0 out of 23
Watch On
  1. 88
    The acting is macho understatement. Mesrine is a character who might have been played years ago by Gerard Depardieu, who appears here as Guido, a bullet-headed impresario of larceny.
  2. 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.
  3. It makes for continuously riveting, visceral entertainment that evokes a Gallic "Scarface" without the drugs.
  4. 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.
  5. Reviewed by: Roger Moore
    Jan 19, 2011
    88
    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.
User Score
8.3

Universal acclaim- based on 19 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 4 out of 4
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 4
  3. Negative: 0 out of 4
  1. Aug 28, 2010
    7
    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 aThe 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. Full Review »
  2. Jul 7, 2012
    8
    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 lifeIt'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. Full Review »
  3. Sep 27, 2011
    7
    Il y a une ambiance à l'américaine dans cette première partie de Mesrine. Cette dernière seIl 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! Full Review »