Killer Instinct (2008) is part one of a two part drama which tells the story of career criminal Jacques Mesrine.
Based on Mesrines autobiography, the film stars Vincent Cassel as Jacques Mesrine, and is directed by Jean-Francois Richet.
For those who do not know who Jacques Mesrine is, you soon will. Vincent Cassel dominates the screen as a man, who, for two decades made a name for himself as a bank robber, prison escapee and murderer.
With Killer Instinct, Richet does an excellant job in tracing the early years of one of Frances most violent criminals.
The movie begins with Meserine serving in the french army in the 1960’s. The first scene demonstrates that the character was not conditioned to be a murderer, but was simply born one. This is shown when executes an algerian soldier in cold blood.
Upon leaving the military, Mesrine lives with his upper class parents, who offer him a well paid job.
Fate calls as Mesrine is loured into the criminal underworld of Paris, a world full of murder, prostitutes and crime. It is here that he meets underworld kingpin Guido, (played by Gerard Depardieu), who becomes his boss.
He meets Sofia, a beautiful young spanish girl, (played by Elena Anaya), with whom he falls in love and has children.
After a failed bank robbery attempt, Mesrine lands himself in jail. Upon being released he secures a legitimate job, only to be laid off in cutbacks. With no money to support his family, Mesrine goes back to work for Guido.
It is this decision that puts him on the road to noteriety as he becomes a wanted man in France, Canada and the USA, eventually gaining the status as Frances public enemy number one.
What makes Killer Instinct such a compelling film to watch is the performance of Vincent Cassel.
Jacques Mesrine was a complex man. He was a son, father, husband, murderer and notorious outlaw. Cassel shows us all these sides to the character.
He plays the character with a charming swagger that is underpinned with a violent temper.
At times we are sympathetic to the character. Pay attention to the scene were Mesrine leaves home and informs his father why he is leaving. We are shown a man haunted by his families lack of courage to stand up to the nazis during the German occupation of France. This is the source of Mesrines anger and frustration at the world.
At other times we are unsympathetic to the him. The raw violent nature of Mesrine is shown in the scene where he places a gun in the mouth of his wife and threatens to blow her brains out if she calls the police.
The script also deserves recognition. Written by Abdel Raouf Dafri and Jean-Francois Richet, it is based on Mesrines autobiography.
The thing that is admirable about the script is that there is always an air of tension running under the dialogue of the characters.
Pay attention to the scene were Guido first meets Mesrine. The exchange between the two is hostile, and you can sense that their relationship will be one of rivalry.
Director Jean-Francois Richet ensures that the sets, costumes and vehicles all match the era that they belong to.
The most negative aspect about Killer Instinct is that it is perhaps a story that could be told just as well on the small screen as opposed to the big screen.
That said, Killer Instinct is a very enjoyable movie. Vincent Cassel shines in his performance as Jacques Mesrine. The film is edgy and violent, a bit like the character it is based upon.
Since it is part one of a two part drama, by the end of Killer Instinct, you cannot help but wanting to know what happens to Jacques Mesrine next. However, Jean-Francois Richet leaves that question with a teaser………”As for Jacques Mesrine, end of part one.”