Generally favorable reviews - based on 18 Critics What's this?

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Generally favorable reviews- based on 25 Ratings

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  • Starring: , ,
  • Summary: Now back in France, Mesrine is finally in police custody and facing justice for his crimes. After escaping a courtroom and kidnapping the judge at gunpoint, Mesrine is declared Public Enemy Number 1 and is eventually condemned to a maximum-security prison where he writes his memoirs, establishing himself as a household name and the anti-hero across France. Mesrine stages another daring escape and disappears into the lawless underworld, taunting the police and reinventing himself as a celebrity criminal through his savvy manipulation of the media. After such a monumental rise, comes the inevitable fall as the police close in, bringing the life of Jacques Mesrine to full bloody circle. (Music Box Films)
  • Director: Jean-Fran├žois Richet
  • Genre(s): Action, Biography, Drama, Thriller, Crime
  • Rating: R
  • Runtime: 133 min
  • More Details and Credits »
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 15 out of 18
  2. Negative: 0 out of 18
  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. The story is deepened with a distinctively European political subtext as the increasingly grandiose Mesrine engages in a running dialogue with various characters about the differences between gangsters and revolutionaries.
  3. 83
    Public Enemy openly raises the question of why officers of the law hated Mesrine so much that they were willing to turn his death into a block party.
  4. 75
    Although Killer Instinct is the better of the two parts, Public Enemy No. 1 is a worthy continuation, providing closure to a tale that was interrupted just as things were getting really interesting.
  5. 70
    Performs the unlikely trick of being both taut and plotless.
  6. 65
    The main and most enjoyable difference between the second installment and the first is the greater opportunity the latter provides Cassel to sketch some dimension into the coded mythologizing of his character.
  7. 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.

See all 18 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 2 out of 2
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 2
  3. Negative: 0 out of 2
  1. Jan 24, 2013
    The 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.
  2. Sep 8, 2010
    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 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. Expand