Mesrine Part 1: Killer Instinct

Rated 3.0

This magnetic, convulsively violent French crime story based on the autobiography of the infamous hoodlum Jacques Mesrine begins with a sort of confessional caveat: “No film can faithfully reproduce the complexity of human life.” Killer Instinct focuses not so much on the internal essence of the man behind the handgun here, but rather his staggering dirty laundry list of felonies as he bullies, wife-beats, burgles, bank-robs, murders, whoremongers and kidnaps his way through 1960s Paris and later Canada and the United States. Titular star Vincent Cassel (Black Swan) and director Jean-Francois Richet (Assault on Precinct 13) won the French equivalent of Oscars for their smoldering efforts in a film that is episodic to a fault but nonetheless crawled under my skin at times with the all the potency of a Martin Scorsese or Brian De Palma opus. Part two drops at the end of March.