This is another film starring one of my favourites – Vincent Cassel.

The film is based on the life of notorious French criminal Jacques Mesrine who was born in the late 30s.  He served with the French Army during the Algerian War, and this is where the film starts – showing him forced to execute a rebel.  I am not sure whether this scene is meant to make you feel that his subsequent aggression and life of crime is justified somehow, but after reading up about Jacques Mesrine himself very briefly after watching the film, he was apparently expelled from college from aggressive behaviour long before he went into the army!

The real Jacques Mesrine

As with many of these films, I was a little worried by the fact that we’re obviously supposed to be won over by who is to all intents and purposes ‘the bad guy’ – but, hey, he was played by Vincent Cassel, so I was bound to like him anyway.  Talking of which, if he wasn’t dead, I think Mesrine would have been rather impressed that the suave Cassel would have played him, as he wasn’t the prettiest of men!  he certainly seemed to have a way with the ladies though – and I think this was used to endear the viewer to him.  He’s particularly good to a prostitute that he becomes attached to, which even though it is in a very violent way, you are definitely on his side.

Gérard Depardieu was almost unrecognisable as Mesrine’s ‘crime mentor’  he had put on a LOT of weight for the role,  it took me a while to work out why he seemed rather familiar!

This is the first of two parts – part two is ‘Public Enemy Number One’.  this film stops after Mesrine and his friend Mercier, a convicted French-Canadian murderer  have broken out of prison in Quebec.

After watching Lourdes, this was just the action-packed, violent, moving film antidote that I needed – and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  I’m looking forward to watching the second part.

My rating – 8/10