Mesrine: Public Enemy No. 1

Metascore
72

Generally favorable reviews - based on 18 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 15 out of 18
  2. Negative: 0 out of 18

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Critic Reviews

  1. Simply skip the first part entirely: "Killer Instinct" bulges with a disconnected jumble of nightclub attacks and fence-clipping escapes you've seen better elsewhere. Yet a tide change happens with the superior Public Enemy No. 1, which takes the subject's raging ego as its cue.
  2. 50
    Mesrine's promised end in November 1979 arrives as history recorded it, but, by that time, you're hoping the next vogue in biopics is the short film.
  3. The second film, in particular, grows tediously episodic, and the exploits become a blur. What never blurs is Mr. Cassel's presence. We're told that he bulked up for the part-though Mesrine was many things, lithe wasn't one of them-but it's his phenomenal zest for his checkered character that fills the screen.

Awards & Rankings

User Score
7.8

Generally favorable reviews- based on 28 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 1 out of 2
  2. Negative: 0 out of 2
  1. Jan 24, 2013
    9
    The true story of one of Europe's most infamous and charismatic criminals, Jacques Mesrine (Vincent Cassel). The first first film is based onThe true story of one of Europe's most infamous and charismatic criminals, Jacques Mesrine (Vincent Cassel). The first first film is based on his autobiographic novel, documenting and projecting himself as brutal man who shot dead 39 victims during his 20-year run as a bank robber and kidnapper. That total doesn't include the prisoners, possibly dozens, executed point blank after they'd been tortured during France's war against Algeria. Mesrine escaped from two high-security prisons, kidnapped a millionaire, broke back into one of the prisons in an attempt to free his friends and went on the lam in Quebec, Arizona and Florida. He justifies his brutal rampage as acts of revolution against the state. While officers were participating in a continuous on-going manhunt, he granted exclusive interviews and wrote tender love poems to his lawyer. And yes, this is a true story.
    Vincent Cassel in his role as Mesrine is electrifying, and what keeps this so engaging throughout both of the films. He doesn't give Mesrine great depth because he is a psychopath, but he holds a commanding presence. He is brutal, and inscrutable--like a wild animal who kills for survival. He walks into banks as a celebrity, making guest appearances. In contrast to another famous outlaw, Dillinger, tried to stay out of shooting situations, and Mesrine seemed addicted to danger. Women were inexplicably willing to commit themselves to him. One of a kind gangster and playboy, who cherished his Public Enemy #1 persona, which ultimately leads to his inevitable demise. Both of these films are well done, and won Cesars for best director (Jean-Francois Richet) and best actor (Vincent Cassel). They have an impact recalling the days when gangster movies were grounded in reality, gritty and raw. The first film is easily the better of the two, but still a fantastic crime drama and highly recommended.
    Full Review »
  2. Sep 8, 2010
    6
    It's clearly a good movie, and the lead actor continues to impress, but the second half of this double feature just felt a little samey to meIt's clearly a good movie, and the lead actor continues to impress, but the second half of this double feature just felt a little samey to me and my crime partner. I appreciated the elongation of the uroboros, however. The director didn't take the brief way out, and it paid off. But when you're looking at your watch as often as I did, it's not going to crack my list of those movies to be considered for the year's ten best. Full Review »