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Film based on the true story of France's infamous public enemy during the 70s, Jacques Mesrine. He lead a life of bank robberies and high-profile kidnappings, escaped from prison twice, and was said to have killed at least 39 people.
For more about Mesrine and the Mesrine Blu-ray release, see Mesrine Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on February 1, 2010 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Mesrine Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, February 1, 2010
Winner of three Cesar awards, including Best Director and Best Actor, Jean-Francois Richet's "Mesrine: L'instinct de mor" a.k.a "Mesrine: Killer Instinct" (2008) and "Mesrine: L'ennemi public n.1" a.k.a "Mesrine: Public Enemy Number 1" (2008) arrive on Blu-ray courtesy of British distributors Momentum Pictures. Amongst the supplemental features on the disc are two making of featurettes, an interview with director Jean-Francois Richet, deleted scenes, trailer and more. With optional English subtitles. Region-B "locked".
Jacques Mesrine was the real deal. By the early 70s his record was bigger than a phone book. The French Police declared him L'ennemi public n.1 a.k.a Public Enemy Number One; he declared war on them. When in 1973 General Pinochet took over Chile and consequently appeared on the front page of every major French newspaper, Mesrine got so upset, he paid a reporter to interview him and tell his story - he had to repair his public image. It worked, and even Ilich Ramirez Sanchez a.k.a Carlos the Jackal, the most famous international terrorist, took an active interest in Mesrine's "work".
Mesrine (Vincent Cassel, La haine) served in the French Army during the Algerian War, but got fed up with it and came back home. He was immediately introduced to an influential gangster, Guido (Gerard Depardieu, Cyrano de Bergerac), who had big plans for him. Before he started "working", Mesrine went on vacation to Spain where he met his future wife, Sofia (Elena Anaya, Sex and Lucia).
In 1962, Mesrine and his friends attempted to rob a bank in Neubourg, Normandy, but were caught and sentenced to eighteen months in jail. Mesrine got out and took a job as a designer, and for awhile it looked like he might become a family man, but lost it, and Guido welcomed him back in his gang.
By 1968, Mesrine had become so hot he had to flee to Canada. Sofia had gone back to Spain, but he already had a new woman to love, Jeanne Schneider (Cecile De France, Haute tension), an ex-escort girl. In Quebec, the two did a couple of jobs and then ran off to the U.S. - where they were caught and extradited back to Canada. Mesrine was quickly sentenced to ten years in jail and sent to the infamous Saint-Vincent-de-Paul prison (referred to as SCU).
In 1972, Mesrine escaped from SCU together with Jean-Paul Mercier (Roy Dupuis, The Ideal Man), a tough goon with connections to FLQ (Quebec Liberation Front). The two robbed a number of banks and even went back to SCU hoping to get a few of their friends out. They failed, and their friends got killed, but the media became obsessed with Mesrine. Almost immediately after that, Mesrine fled to Venezuela.
By the end of 1972, Mesrine was back in France, doing what he could do best - robbing banks. In 1973, he was caught again, but an accomplice, Michel Ardouin (Samuel Le Bihan, Fureur), helped him escape from the courtroom where a judge was about to read his sentence. The French media went berserk.
Mesrine fell in love with Sylvie Jeanjacquot (Ludivine Sagnier, Swimming Pool), an elegant call girl, and for awhile the two enjoyed life. But in 1977 he was caught again, and sentenced to twenty years in jail. This time Mesrine was sent to the notorious La Santé, where he met Francois Besse (Mathieu Amalric, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly). Here Mesrine wrote his book, "L'Instinct de Mort" a.k.a "Killer Insinct". A year later, he managed to escape with Besse, and his book became a bestseller.
Besse was arrested in Belgium. He left Mesrine after his friend became interested in politics - Mesrine wanted to change the system; Besse wanted to milk it. An old friend from SCU, Charly Bauer (Gerard Lanvin, En plein coeur), appeared and started talking to Mesrine about the Red Brigades. A couple of months later, he agreed to meet their leaders. At the same time, Mesrine became enormously upset with Jacques Dallier (Alain Fromager), an outspoken fascist and journalist, who wrote an article in Minute (a French newspaper sympathizing with the extreme-right) describing him as a terrible man without morals. Mesrine and Bauer beat up Dallier so bad they assumed they had killed him, but he survived.
The end came abruptly. Mesrine had become so big, President Valery Giscard d'Estaing asked the French Army to assist the Police and get rid of him. A couple of months later, Mesrine was killed in an ambush on the outskirts of Paris. It was November 2, 1979.
I have nothing but great things to say about Jean-François Richet's L'instinct de mort and L'ennemi public n.1. The two films are well constructed and, more importantly, incredibly informative. In fact, they offer such a detailed account of the life the notorious French gangster led that at times it is almost impossible to keep up with the names of all the different people he met or had a relationship with.
The acting is superb - and how could it not be; with a few minor exceptions, these two films contain the crème de la crème of French actors (Vincent Cassel, Gerard Depardieu, Mathieu Amalric, Gérard Lanvin, Cécile De France, Ludivine Sagnier, Samuel Le Bihan, etc.). Cassel, in particular, who apparently lost and gained more than forty pounds during the shooting of the film, is outstanding.
Mesrine Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in an aspect ratio of 2.34:1, encoded with VC-1 and granted a 1080p transfer, Jean-Francois Richet's Mesrine: L'instinct de mort and Mesrine: L'ennemi public n.1 arrive on Blu-ray courtesy of British distributors Momentum Pictures.
There is only one thing that bothers me about this Blu-ray release - the two films should have been placed on two separate BD50. When Universal-France released them last year, this is precisely what they did. It was the right thing to do.
The two transfers are practically identical to the ones used for the French releases. Both are encoded with VC-1 (as were the French ones) and convey basically the same fluctuations I observed on the French releases (softness, contrast, etc). Generally speaking, clarity and detail are also quite similar. On this disc, however, during a couple of scenes I noticed a bit of mild flickering (it is very noticeable during the army chase in the forest). As far as I could tell, the color-scheme is also identical - greens, yellows, browns, blacks and especially blues are rich and well saturated (for example, the part where Mesrine meets Sofia and invites her to dance with him looks excellent). Additionally, there are portions of the two films that were shot with a hand-held camera, and contrast varies quite a bit there. Heavy edge-enhancement and macroblocking, however, are not an issue of concern. On the other hand, I noticed a bit of digital noise - particularly during the second film - but, again, I don't believe that this is something that would bother most of you. Finally, I did not notice any scratches, marks, dirt, or cuts to report in this review. To sum it all up, have these two films been placed on separate BD50, I have absolutely no doubt that they would have looked marvelous. On the other hand, they still look very good, and I have absolutely no problem recommending them to you. (Note: This is a Region-B "locked" disc. Therefore, you must have a native Region-B or Region-Free player in order to access its content).
Mesrine Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There is only one audio track on this Blu-ray disc: French DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. For the record, Momentum Pictures have provided optional English subtitles for the main feature. When turned on, they appear inside the image frame.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is excellent. The bass is rich and powerful, the rear channels not overly active but very effective, and the high-frequencies not overdone. The dialog is crisp, clear and easy to follow. Additionally, I did not detect any problematic dropouts, clicks, pops, or cracks to report in this review. Eloi Painchaud (first film) and especially Marco Beltrami and Marcus Trumpp's (second film) music scores sound terrific.
Mesrine Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Making of Killer Instinct - a long and very informative featurette containing a variety of different comments from cast and crew members addressing Mesrine's legacy, the key characters in the film, its production history, etc. There is also an abundance of raw footage from the shooting process. In French, with optional English subtitles. (48 min).
Making of Public Enemy n.1 - a similarly long and in-depth featurette focusing on Mesrine's legacy. There is raw footage from the shooting of the quite a few of the more dangerous scenes in the film. In French, with optional English subtitles. (45 min).
The Actors & their characters - Vincent Cassel, Elena Anaya, Samuel Le Bihan, Gerard Depardieu, Gilles Lellouch, Olivier Gourmet, Ludivine Sagnier, Gerard Lanvin, Mathieu Almaric and Cecile De France discuss the characters they play in the film. In French and English, with optional English subtitles. (18 min).
Making of Film Score - composers Marco Beltrami and Marcus Trumpp discuss their involvement with the film, the type of emotions the music was meant to convey. In English, with imposed French subtitles. (11 min).
Deleted Scenes - a collection of eight deleted scenes. With optional English subtitles.
Interview - director Jean-Francois Richet talks about his decision to film the life of Mesrine, his legacy, some of the difficulties the cast and crew encountered while shooting the film, etc. In French, with optional English subtitles. (26 min).
Trailer - the original theatrical trailer for the film. In French, with imposed English subtitles. (2 min).
Mesrine Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Two of the best films to be released on Blu-ray in 2009 - unfortunately, not in English-friendly territories - Jean-Francois Richet's L'instinct de mort and L'ennemi public n.1 are now available on Blu-ray in the UK through local distributors Momentum Pictures. If you can play Region-B "locked" discs, then you should most definitely consider ordering one for your library. Vincent Cassel is on fire! VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
Mesrine Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Mesrine Double Feature Announced on Blu-ray - December 9, 2009
Momentum Pictures has announced the Blu-ray release of 'Mesrine Parts 1 & 2', which will hit UK store shelves on January 25, 2010. 'Mesrine' is a four-hour epic in two parts ('Mesrine: Killer Instinct' and 'Mesrine: Public Enemy No. 1) that charts the rise and ...
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