Jacques Mesrine is one of those 20th century stories that seem tailor-made for a film adaptation. A cavalier, career criminal, he’s known to have robbed numerous banks in several countries (including France, the US, Canada, and Venezuela), was arrested several times, imprisoned, and escaped from jail four times. He was by many accounts a charismatic trickster and something of a wildman — a sort of French John Dillinger. His story was made into a film titled simply Mesrine in 1984.
Now, that story is being retold, albeit in an unusual fashion. It’s actually two films — Mesrine: Killer Instinct and Mesrine: Public Enemy #1 — filmed back-to-back, based on his autobiography. The films star Vincent Cassel (Ocean’s Twelve, Eastern Promises and (gulp) Irreversible), Ludivine Sagnier (Swimming Pool), Cécile De France (Hight Tension), and Gerard Depardeiu, and won quite a few awards at various international film festivals.
But of course, it’s a foreign film (let’s just treat them as one film to avoid confusion). It’s in French, English, Arabic and Spanish. Which means that despite being released in Europe and Asia in 2008, it’s only coming to the US in September, and only getting a limited release — meaning everyone outside of New York, Los Angeles and a smattering of indie theaters won’t see it (though I wouldn’t be surprised if IFC picks it up). Which is a shame, because it looks like a fucking ball. Check out the trailer for the first entry — Mesrine: Killer Instinct (you can tell it’s cut for American audiences because, well, no one speaks):