When looking for this movie I read some comments by critics who claimed part no. 1 as more of a classic than part 2. I was still eager to watch it but to be frank I do not understand those critics. May be part 1 is still a cinematic classic. But part 2, for me, is a brilliant movie. It is outrageously brilliant and I dont understand why some critics dont find so. May be for a layman like me, this is a more classic entertainer than the first part. But for sure, Mesrine - Public enemy no. 1 is not an ordinary entertainer or a typical gangster movie. It is fu***ng brilliant, in the white's own language, and could be placed with the best 5 gangster movies from the whole world.
By end of 1972, Mesrine is back to France from Canada and continues his robberies, jail breaks until one day, 1979, he is executed by a special squad of French Police, in the outskirts of Paris.
I am not into gangster lives or anything like that, am glad to lead the life of a normal tax paying citizen. However, I have never felt so much adoration for a gangster, thanks to this bloody brilliant movie. It is simply thrilling, thrilling to the hilt, but still proceeds like a classic movie. From the very beginning, incidents follow one after another, proving how a dare devil man he was, may it be his escape from the court room (where he is on trial) taking the judge as a hostage or his escape from the jail. There are only few moments in this movie, when we can actually really sit back without anticipating the unknown. Really thrilling.
But in between there is this brilliant and touching scene of Mesrine, disguised as a doctor, visiting his sick father. The movie had a really different look immediately. That scene was so touching and beautifully done. And it is in this second part, the many different emotions and aspects of Mesrine as an individual comes out. When he is in jail and since there isn't any news about him in the papers, Mesrine just writes a book about his past crimes (when he is awaiting trial !!!), how he killed more than 40 people and all. And then there is this wonderful scene when the special squad rounds him out and knocks at his door. Mesrine takes his time in destroying some documents and welcomes the officer with a champagne. He also tells the officer why he didnt resist the arrest, due to the presence of a lady in his room as he was concerned about her safety. There is also this beautiful scene where his teenage daughter visits him in the jail. Likewise, there are some incidents which places him as a man with lot of kindness and gratitude, an extra ordinarily brilliant guy who just enjoyed being in the other side of the system, robbing banks as they were robbing people. But he was no Robbin Hood, he just spend all what he robbed, mostly for women and luxury.
Vincent Cassel, what do I say, bloody bloody brilliant. With his 70's style hair style, I thought he was even more charming. One of the best performances I have ever seen. He seemed to have put up lot of weight for this movie, not as much as De Nero did for Raging Bull, and had given his heart out. There were moments when I felt like rewinding the scene to watch it once again. Well, my dvd player didn't like it, so I had to stop that after couple of times.
And my sincere most salutes to the director and his team. I must especially talk about the final scene when the police special team is waiting for Mesrine to come out and follow him all the way, before they kill him on the road, without any warning at all. Even before Mesrine realise anything, he is shot. By the present Indian system, this is a perfect encounter. But this whole part was superbly executed. The fear of a hiding squad member, when Mesrine is really close to him, is both hilarious and makes the moment really thrilling. This scene and the one at the hospital are the ones I felt, were the best. Doesn't mean the others were not up to it. As I said, it is a great success as a thriller biopic, but these two scenes would stand out for me.
I am really really glad I saw Mesrine. I really wish, this is released in India for my fellow Indians. Most Indians seem to have a lot of misconceptions about movies from other lands than Hollywood.