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  • Warning: Spoilers
    I found Mesrine to be better than I expected, given the reviews which I had read and also better than I had remembered. I had seen it before, years ago on a school French exchange trip. It was billed as the big weekend film and was heavily trailered on television, with tie-in pieces in some of the French news and television listings magazines, which my exchange partners family read. It was quite violent but as this was France it was broadcast at about Eight O'clock on a Saturday evening! It didn't really make sense, at the time I assumed that it was because I didn't speak much French but watching it on the Studio Canal DVD with English subtitles it still doesn't make much sense... This is quite an important point as I've read Carey Schofield's biography of Jacques Mesrine a few times, so I'm familiar with the story. I think poor editing plays a part and there is little exposition of some of the action, for example the early scenes have text to show that he was in gaol in Montreal, Canada and then on trial in Compeigne, without bothering to explain that Compeigne is back in France, hence French style Policeman, which creates momentary confusion. Characters are rarely named either: his lawyer Christiane Giletti makes an appearance during his gaol-break from La Sante but she isn't named and the viewer is left unsure if she is a lawyer, or prison visitor or even who's side she is meant to be on. Some scenes are also played for laughs, such as the over eager researcher at Police Headquarters, which detracts from the film. There's also occasional violent moments which just seem to be there for the sake of it, for example a short scene showing a contact's car being blown up in Palermo. It's not really relevant to the main story and somehow leaves the impression that some of the budget was ring fenced for explosions, so the writers had to write in an explosion scene. There are also a few quality errors, the long shots of Mesrine and Sylvie Jeanjacquot driving through Porte De Clignancourt, aren't in proper focus and Mesrine's famous car is silver instead of bronze. None of these problems are enough to make a bad film though. In it's favour Nicolas Silberg actually looks like Mesrine, something which cannot be said of Vincent Cassel's Mesrine. Even the lack of depth to his character works in it's favour; maybe he was just shallow and insubstantial and the justifications of his behaviour and his depth of intellect made by his apologists was all nonsense? The film is understated, somehow the action is pleasingly smaller than life, the execution scene comes right out of the blue and despite being something that was clearly inevitable the suddenness of it shocks the viewer making it the most effective scene in the film, more so than in the 2009 film. It benefits from being made barely four years after his death, so this is an almost contemporary account of his misadventures. The backdrop is a surprisingly attractive late 1970's/ beginning of the 1980's France, which looks quite crisp and classy. A smart reminder that not everybody wore flares and Afghan coats in those days. It's filmed in a light slightly over-exposed almost pastel colour scheme, which even makes La Sante gaol look elegiac. It's all complemented by elegant strings and tubular bell music by Jean-Pierre Rusconi, with a reoccurring theme that gets into your head but frustratingly cannot be whistled. All in all a good B movie, if they still made such things.
  • writers_reign23 July 2008
    Warning: Spoilers
    On paper this has all the hallmarks of an excellent film; the true story of a criminal who, for a time, was the Most Wanted man in France, who attempted an audacious mass prison break, who escaped himself and went on a Bonnie and Clyde type rampage for some eighteen months before perishing - as Clyde before him - in a hail of bullets. On the screen the inept direction reduces it to just another programmer and an anaemic one at that, a colour film with all the colour drained out so that what should be - and could and would be in the hands of a competent director - exciting sequences have about as much adrenalin as a poetry reading in a convent. There's a film waiting to be made about Mesrine and maybe we'll get it one day.
  • Everyone will prefer the two films made in 2008, starring Vincent Cassel, no doubt about it. But, this film is good for me. Nicolas Silberg is more Mesrine than Mesrine himself, with a deep voice, - a voice which Mesrine did not have !!!! Mesrine - if you listen to the tapes he recorded before his death - had a thin voice, not a gangster's voice but a simple blue collar worker waking up each morning to go to work. Every one's voice. That's the irony. But choosing an actor with a thin voice would not have been believable. Even Vincent Cassel playing Mesrine did not have a thin voice, but a deep voice. That's the proof that reality is always more incredible than fiction. But also more boring and more horrible too. Never forget that. To summarize, excellent performance, from Nicolas Silberg, who had a voice which matched his character and physique. Unlike Mesrine himself !!!! ha ha ha
  • dbdumonteil5 December 2007
    Based on the true story of a French gangster who was widely talked about in the late seventies .Made by Claude Chabrol's producer Paul Genovès .And played by Nicolas Silberg -who is best known for his Bussy character in the excellent "Dame de Montsoreau " miniseries circa 1975-,de la Comédie Française,thus the only real convincing actor of the whole movie,sadly unsupported by the rest of the cast and Genovès's poor directing.

    It's difficult to have interest in such a character.There are subjects which are not really appealing.Okay Mesrine thought ,and for a good reason,for he spent twenty years of his life in jail,in top security wing,that prison was inhuman and destroyed the human being;thus his plan of a great escape where he would free all the prisoners of La Santé,a penitentiary where he was the first and only to escape from to this day.It does not justify all those crimes:39 in all.