Spoiler Warning


Always assume Spoilers and possible profanity in context. These are often adult themed movies.


Thursday, April 21, 2011

Mesrine Part 2: Public Enemy #1



This film is the second part of the Mesrine saga, although it stands on it's own just fine. The first film Mesrine: Killer Instinct, showed us Mesrine's climb from regular guy to notoriously famous gangster. Public Enemy Number 1 shows us what he does once he gets there. The opening mirrors the first film, starting at the end just like Killer Instinct, only a few minutes later. We saw that Mesrine and Sylvie were surprised by many policemen aiming guns at them from the back of a truck they were stopped behind in traffic.

Here we pick up at the same scene "Porte De Clignancourt, November 2, 1979" with police, the press and a large crowd, surrounding the bullet riddled car. Any ambiguity is gone as we see a reporter interviewing Broussard (Olivier Gourmet) the policeman in charge of the anti-Mesrine task force, made up of men from The Anti crime unit and the Special Tactical Unit. He tells a reporter that there were 30 men involved and that all went according to plan. Broussard claims that Mesrine opened the door without surrendering, despite a warning. They knew he was armed so they fired. We get a good look at the bloody body of Mesrine slumped into the steering wheel before Broussard pulls him out for the men with stretchers.The crowd is agitated but he's loaded into a truck and driven to the morgue.

We then move back to 1973 where we find Mesrine in a police station, calmly smoking a cigar while an officer takes his statement. He gets angry with the typist for pronouncing his name "Mess-reene" rather than "May-Reen." His concern is acknowledged and the officer asks him about his associates, Grangier and Ardouin, who Mesrine claims he's never heard of. The officer clearly doesn't believe him.

We skip to a nightclub where Mesrine is warmly greeted by some friends, Grangier and Ardouin (Smauel Le Bihan)   We then see them Ardouin and Mesrine leaving a bank they robbed while Grainger waits with the car. Mesrine surprises Ardouin by crossing the street to rob a second bank, which he does without a mask, although Ardouin wears one.

Back at the police station he's told that the teller recognized him. The officer suggests that the teller could have recognized the others too, but Mesrine insists that his partners always wear masks. We're shown the scene where they easily apprehended Mesrine, before cutting back to the questioning. The officer is puzzled and asks "You admit to the robbery and attempted murder?"
Mesrine: Yes.
Officer: but not the stolen checks?
Mesrine: I don't mind being honest about what I did, but I won't confess to stuff I didn't do. That's logical.
The typist remarks that this means they'll have to transfer him to Compiegne court. The officer tells him he'll be going away for a good while, but Mesrine offers to bet him that he'll be out in three months.

We move forward to Mesrine in handcuffs fixed to a chain, being escorted to a courthouse. He tells his escorts that he's sick and needs the restroom, so they escort him. When he implies that they want to watch him on the toilet, in the small bathroom they let him close the door enough that they can't see him, although he's still chained so can't go far. He pretends noisily to be using the toilet, but manages to reach into the toilet tank and find a hidden pistol, which he tucks into his pants. In court he demands to have his handcuffs removed, but the judge isn't interested in his demands, scolding him. He promptly pulls the pistol and demands to be uncuffed. He pulls the judge out from behind the bench and uses him as a hostage to escape. He releases the judge and runs for the car Ardouin has waiting. Mesrine is shot in the arm by cops firing after them and the getaway gets messier when Ardouin hits a police van. They do manage to escape however and at his place, Mesrine is told his father is in the hospital. He and friend laugh while watching the news reports of his escape. Mesrine gets upset that the reporter misquotes him, but is just as quickly thrilled when the reporter announces that he has now been named "Public enemy number 1"

We next find Mesrine disguised as a doctor in the hospital his father is at. He walks right by the guard stationed outside his father's room, in case Mesrine thinks to show up. He wakes his father, who asks why he came. Mesrine says "The banks were closed, I figured I'd visit my father."
Father: You came...Have you seen your daughter?
Mesrine: No. Not yet. You know. I'm not much of a son.
Father; I'm not much of a father either.
Mesrine: It's how I am. What can I say Dad? I'm sorry.
Father: It must be my fault.
Mesrine: No.
Father: No matter what happens Jacky, you're still her father.
Mesrine; I know.
Father: And, you're still my son.
Mesrine: [sobbing] I'm sorry. Forgive me.
Father: You better go now.
We see his fahter's funeral next with the cops close by watching for Mesrine.

We skip to Paris, 1973 and find Mesrine in a goofy disguise on a park bench asking a man with a black eye how he got it. The man says he's a boxer. Mesrine remarks that Ardouin is a boxer too. He next asks the man if he can drive, and when he says he can, Mesrine mentions a job coming up in a few days. We flash right to the job and see the boxer in a car waiting outside a bank. The police are also approaching the bank with a description of the car. They see it and let dispatch know. The driver surrenders quickly and gets cuffed as Mesrine and Ardouin exit the bank. They're spotted quickly and the police start shooting. They fire back and escape, hijacking a random car while they're pursued. Ardouin hits a car and Mesrine fires at the cops to keep them back. He fires right next to Ardouin head and appears to damage his eardrums. They abandon the car and head to the subway. Ardouin's head still hurts and he yells at Mesrine that he knew the driver "couldn't cut it." adding "your bullshit almost got us killed."
Mesrine: Okay. Fine. You were right. I didn't listen. I'm sorry. Now, give me a break, okay?"
Ardouin is concerned that their driver will talk now that the police have him. Mesrine insists that he won't, telling Ardouin "A guy I choose never flips, understand?"
Ardouin: Fuck you. Since you're so smart you can work it out alone. Fuck off, Mesrine.
He gets off the subway leaving Mesrine alone with the passengers. He tells them all to leave the car so he can have it to himself.

We then find Mesrine in bed with the alarm buzzing with a girl next to him. We see Commissioner Broussard outside in a car in the rain. One of his men asks if they're waiting much longer as his men have been on the roof for eight hours,and it's raining. Broussard says "I noticed. I'll let you know." Mesrine is awakened by the police knocking on the door. The girl appears frightened. We see Broussard in the hallway and he tells Mesrine he's surrounded, a fact he confirms by looking out the window and seeing marksmen. He toys with Broussard trying a fake voice and then claiming he's with the Baader-Meinhof gang, saying "I'll blow the place sky high. Long live the revolution!" Broussard doesn't buy it, saying "Wonderful. Thank you very much. Quit it Jacques. You're overdoing it." Mesrine tells the girl to get dressed. He questions Broussard's identity asking if he's "the one who gets his picture in the papers." Broussard says yes and Mesrine says "First of all, Fuck you. Second, how do I know it's you?" He convinces Broussard to slide his id under the door. Broussard is concerned that he'll shoot when he's in front of the door with the id. Mesrine says "GO on. You have my word. You know who I am. I don't lie." He finally does it, and once Mesrine checks the id he asks for two favors. Broussard says "If they're reasonable." Mesrine says "First, the girl with me, leave her alone. She's not involved. Second, give me twenty minutes. I've got stuff to do." Broussard answers "ANything else? A car and a chauffeur?" Mesrine says "I'll get that anyway." Mesrine tells him it's that, or war, and Broussard agrees to give him twenty minutes. Mesrine gets busy burning his fake id's in the sink while trying to keep the girl calm. He assures her that she'll be fine. Broussard starts knocking again when the twenty minutes is up. Mesrine asks "Do you have the balls to come get me with no gun and no vest?"
Broussard: Why would i do that?
Mesrine: Just because. To see if you can. I would anyway. Broussard? Are you sure you box in my weight class?
Broussard agrees to do it, and rmoves his gun and vest standing in front of the door. He asks Mesrine "Do you have the balls to come out unarmed?"
Mesrine has the girl open the door, and Broussard sees Mesrine dressed up smiling with a cigar in his mouth, opening a bottle of champagne for him. Photographers come in after Mesrine is cuffed and Mesrine smiles for them mentioning Broussard's "moment of glory." He says to Broussard "You didn't ask me why I didn't smoke you or your boys just now."
Broussard: Cops don't think. They act.
Mesrine: Because there was a lady. That's the only reason. Because there was a lady. Next time, there'll be no lady. And no champagne, Broussard. Just you and me. So...until we meet again. [he clinks Broussard's glass with his own.]

We next see Mesrine in prison in Paris, later in 1973. In his cell he has fairly normal clothes and reads a newspaper getting upset. He pounds his door for a guard, and when one responds he asks him, "Who is this guy, Pinochet?" The guard says he's a Chilean general. Mesrine says "A Chilean general? Some loser named Pinochet gets the front page. There's not one line about me." The guard says "It's a coup d'etat." Mesrine angrily says "A coup d'etat? Find me a typewriter. I'm going to write it." Mesrine is soon typing away. We see him talking with his attorney who asks him "What is this?" holding up his book. "L'Instinct De Mart" He says "That's my book." She' concerned that admitting to over forty murders and describing where they happened will have the police studying the book to find evidence. Mesrine laughs and says "If they're going to dig, they better dig here. [pointing at his head]
Attorney: Why, it's not true?
Mesrine: People like pace, action.
Attorney: And?
Mesrine: And no jury will think I'm stupid enough to confess to stuff that will get me the guillotine. You know on the street, I'm a star.
Attorney: You amuse people but you scare them too.If they can assuage that fear by locking you up, they will.
She tells him he has a visitor and Mesrine is escorted to a visiting room to see his daughter, who is much older of course, than when he last saw her. She looks very happy to see him and he smiles as well, although they both seem hesitant to start talking. She finally tells him "I grew up!"  He says "I can see that!" The both of them can't stop smiling. He asks about her brothers and she says they're fine, although "they screw around a lot." He laughs and says 'How strange!" He tells her to be careful of punks with motorbikes and she asks when he'll be back. He says it'll be a while and tells her "I'm sorry, doll. This is no way to see each other."
She says "It's better. If I want to see you, I know where to find you. I miss you" Mesrine puts his hand up to the glass and she returns the gesture.

We then find Mesrine in court for trial, asked by the DA if he knows Ardouine, who is present. He claims he's never seen him before. He moves on and asks about the judge he held hostage. Mesrine makes a joke of it and says "like any good citizen, I was only looking for judicial protection." which gets the courtroom laughing. He's then asked if he plans to escape again. He answers "when you live in hell, escaping is a right. I'd even say it's a duty, and even a business. I never talk without compensation." He then produces a key to his handcuffs, informing the room that he purchased it from a guard. He points out that they work to guard the same system which allowed him to buy a key. The judge asks him why he has so many guns and he jokes that he saves the police department work by taking care of his own enemies. The judge is tired of seeing him work the crowd and speaks up, saying "He has forged the image of a nice man. An outlaw, of course, but one who wouldn't harm a fly, who even treats his victims kindly. What a joke! It is nothing more than a pretense to conceal his terrible ruthlessness. There are no honest gangsters. There are only gangsters. And you are a gangster, Mesrine. You fire without hesitation. When things go wrong, you go all the way. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, you must uphold the law and impose punishment. There is no society, if there is no punishment. Mesrine stands and says 'So, I'm public enemy number 1? I'm the enemy of one public entity, the banks. Of course I rob them. So, hey, they don't like me. But, when I rob a bank, I don't feel like I'm breaking the law. I'm just stealing from a bigger thief than myself. So you want to toss me away in a hole, don't you? Throw away the key and forget me? Go ahead, toss me in that hole. But, I'll escape."

We see him back in prison, having been sentenced to twenty years in maximum security. He adjusts well, saying hello to the guards who are happy to light cigars for him. Mesrine stops to talk with a fellow inmate who is doing push ups, asking if he's exercising because he has plans. He introduces himself but the man doesn't seem impressed saying "So, what are you doing in my yard?" Mesrine brags that in prison he gets whatever he wants, and he says "I can see that." Mesrine says he's escaped three times already and the other man says "So have I." Mesrine adds "but maybe I'd like to do it again..." The man then offers his hand and says "The name is Francois Besse (Mathieu Amalric)"

Mesrine arranges a visit from his lawyer, getting him outside the main prison. He claims he wants to discuss a case which she doesn't have the file for, and Mesrine says that Francois has it, sending a guard to retrieve it. Francois is in his cell pulling a small mace canister from the bottom of a foil lined bag of crackers and moving it to his sock. Mesrine's attorney smiles at him and she slides him her briefcase which contains guns. She tells him she'll be disbarred if anyone finds out. He tells her "Don't worry. You're saving my life. I won't mess up yours." THe guard asks Francois for the file and he attemps to hand it through the bars but it's too thick to fit through. The guard opens the door and Francois "accidentally" drops the contents of the file, which gives him the chance to reach into his sock.  He sprays both guards in the eyes catching them completely by surprise and then pushing them into his cell and locking them in. Two other guards see him outside his cell, but before they can apprehend him, Mesrine is behind them with his guns. They take the guards' uniforms and lock them up. They start leaving and run into another guard, taking him along at gunpoint and grabbing an extension ladder which was being used for work on the prison. They climb the wall with the ladder and use a grappling hook with rope to descend the other side. Francois and Mesrine get down safely, confiscating someone's car, although a third prisoner coming with them breaks his leg dropping down and isn't able to get to the car before the police show up. The third prisoner fires a few shots before he's gunned down and Mesrine and Francois escape.

Mesrine and Francois find a place to live. Mesrine surprises Francois by showing up with a couple of girls.Mesrine calls Francois "Jean-Luc" and Mesrine himself goes by "Bruno" Francois asks to speak to Mesrine away from the girls. He isn't happy about the girls and asks "What are those bimbos doing here?" Mesrine justifies it by saying "I've been jerking off to lingerie ads for five years now." The girls are watching the television, which is covering Mesrine's escape and shows a good picture of him, which clearly affects them. Francois gets angry and grabs a gun, turning off the TV and storming out murmuring that they'll have to move again. Mesrine sits on the couch with both of them and tells them not to believe the press. They settle down, impressed by his notoriety.

Mesrine disguises himself with a short haircut and glasses and he and Francois visit a police department posing as detectives from Paris. He asks the station Chief about how many men he has on duty at a ten. Mesrine asks if he's heard of any activity from "Those two maniacs, Besse and Mesrine." pointing to a poster of them on the wall. The chief asks "Do you think they'd dare try something around here?"  Mesrine takes the opportunity to rib Francois saying "You never know with those two. Anyway, watch the little guy. He's the worst." Francois urges Mesrine to get going although he's clearly enjoying himself. Outside Francois isn't happy that there are more active cops then they thought. Mesrine, however reasons "even with an army, they're just chickenshit cops."

They next visit a casino, and tell the manager they need to check his vault for counterfeit bills. The manager asks for a warrant, which causes Francois to show his police ID. The manager insists that it isn't a warrant. Francois seems flustered and looks to Mesrine, who says he has a warrant and pulls out his gun directing the manager to bring them to the vault. The alarm is pulled before they leave the property and the cops get there quickly forcing a shoot out. Francois is wounded before they can escape, but eventually they grab a car and speed off. A huge police search party is organized and the car dies on them shortly. They find a house with a family in it and force themselves in, keeping the family at their own dinner table. Mesrine is pleased when their heist is covered on the radio. When no one at the table will say anything, Mesrine gets the two young kids to laugh.He suggests that they all vote on whether or not they go for a ride to the country and everyone votes to go, realizing that it wasn't really a vote.Mesrine tells the father to take them out of town and Mesrine and Francois get in the trunk hoping to get past a police road block. We see that they can see into the car from the trunk via a hole behind the back seat armrest. The police question them, but don't bother checking the trunk.The father lets them out of the trunk and Mesrine gives him some money for his assistance.

The national guard is soon out in full force looking for them anyway as they try to escape through some woods. Attempting to wade through a river, Mesrine tries to toss one of their bags of money across to the other side, despite Francois warning that it's too far. It gets swept down river and Francois insists that was his share. Immediately afterwards they see a rowboat and find they don't have to cross.

Next we see Mesrine in the city, in another disguise when a girl walking by catches his attention and he follows her into a bar. After they say hello, she asks "So, what will you buy me?" He takes off his hat and it appears that he's shaved the top of his head to appear balding. He orders her the best champagne. She tells him her name is Sylvia (Ludivine Sagnier) and before long they're in bed, where she tells him her horoscope told her she would fall in love.

We skip to 1978 and Mesrine meets with a reporter named Isabelle.(Laure Marsac) for an interview. She asks "Why do you do what you do?" He answers "I don't like laws, and I won't be a slave to my alarm clock." I don't want to pass every store thinking "That'll cost me ten months work." No." She asks him if he's politically right or left wing and he tells her that he isn't either and it's all corrupt.He admits after deliberating that he is "maybe" a dangerous man. She asks "How do you think you'll age and die?" and he says "Frankly, I don't think I'll live to be very old. They'll end up shooting me. I'll die. It's normal. It makes sense. And anyway, you know, a man who's been in an MSA, a Maximum Security Area, has every right. So I have every right." She asks him about his plans and he has a long list including, closing the MSA's and freeing all the prisoners. He claims he's a nitroglcerin specialist, and that he'll rub out judges if he has to and tells her that he might go somewhere to train with Palestinians, saying "We'll blow everything." He then offers her a cup of coffee.

Sylvie walks through a park and stops at a newsstand to pick up magazines. She arrives home where Mesrine and Francois are waiting and she tells Mesrine he's in "Paris, Match." Francois looks through the article and reads the part about training with Palestinians and his other wild claims. He asks what is this bullshit?" Mesrine says "It's not bullshit. It's a revolution." Francois responds "We're crooks, not wild eyed idealists. We don't try to break the system." Mesrine tells him "That's typical of a small fry." Francois insists that they talk about it, but Mesrine insists they talk over dinner. He tells Francois that their next job is to kidnap a billionaire and he's picked one out already who's a slumlord. He then says that afterwards, they'll get bazookas and attack the MSA's. Francois says "Listen Jacques, Attack the MSA's, why not? But then what are you going to get me into? The truth is, you'll never stop. You want to tear the system down, but I want it to stand so I can milk it. You're a spinning top. The worst part is you don't realize it." Mesrine says "I don't know about tops."

We next jump to 1979, and find Mesrine and a new partner posing as police detectives to visit a Mr. Lefevre's house. Lefevre's son answers the door, but seems skeptical, yet gets his father.When they tell him he needs to go to the station with them to talk about his properties, he quickly obliges, leaving with them. We see Lefevre next with a hood pulled away from his face with Mesrine telling him he's in custody of the Palestine Liberation Front. Lefevre doesn't know how that affects him, as he's not Jewish. Mesrine says "Not a problem. You'll shell it out for me, Jacques Mesrine." He takes the news calmly and asks if they'll be keeping him long. Lefevre asks how much he wants and Mesrine says 10 million. Lefevre says it's too much since he's old and doesn't have a lot of time left.Mesrine then adjusts his demand and tells him 8 million, he again says it's too high. He won't agree to seven either but finally says OK to 6 million, paid in four installments. Mesrine demands that he pay in three installments and they agree.

Later in conversation, Lefevre suggests that they're a lot alike saying "We like fine things. And, if to get them, we must extort money from an honest worker, why not?" Mesrine protests "That's bullshit. We're totally different. You're an exploiter, I'm a revolutionary. That's not the same." Lefevre asks "Mr. Mesrine, do you know how to tell between a revolutionary and a gangster?"
Mesrine: What is this? A riddle?
Lefevre: A revolutionary would have put a bullet in my head and left my corpse in the trunk of a car without ever asking for a cent. On the other hand, a gangster asks for ransom, picks up his money, and releases me. That's what you'll do."
Mesrine: You forgot the third possibility. I get the money, put a bullet in your head, and toss you in the trunk. There. You hadn't thought of that.
Lefevre: In that case, all the stuff in the papers, "Mesrine, the honest bandit whose word is his bond." that's all bullshit then."
They hear on the TV, that Francois was captured by police in in Belgium tipped off to him by the French anti gang squad. Mesrine says "I know him. He won't be in long."

Mesrine and his partner are crouched in the woods with binoculars watching Lefevre's son who was due to bring part of the ransom. They make him sit there a long time, and see a car pull up next to him. and figure that they're the cops. Mesrine starts talking shots at the cops' windshield and soon many other unmarked cop cars show up, sending Mesrine and his ppartner off down a trail on dirtbikes. He puts a gun in Lefevre's face, and tells him what happened. He swears it won't happen again. Soon Mesrine comes back to the house, happy that Lefevre's son, made the first payment, and that the newspaper reported that Francois escaped, calling it "A Mesrine style escape."

Mesrine brings Sylvia out to buy things, including a car, jewelry, and clothes, spending some time in an upscale hotel. He sees a news report that says he'll certainly be recaptured as he feels the need to justify his status as public enemy number one.

We skip forward to Paris, 1979. and find Mesrine parked in a car, disguised with a beard and mustache, a hat and dark glasses. He watches people walk by and calls out "Charlie" when he sees a man walking by. The two of them go to Mesrine's place for drinks and Mesrine remarks, "Charlie Bauer (Gerard Lanvin,) the invisible man, you're a hard man to see." Charlie says "I have an organization and comrades to answer to."
Mesrine: Yeah right, I forgot. Your far left comrades, who tell you how to drink, eat, who you can see? Is that it?
Charlie: Do you think that you alone can fuck the system?
Mesrine: I don't think I am. I know I'm doing it. Have you seen the papers? Have you read my book?
Charlie: Part of it. I didn't like what I read. Because it's got nothing to do with who I am and what I stand for. I'll even tell you that if we'd met in Algeria, it wouldn't have been side by side, but face to face, gun in hand.
Mesrine: I know that. I'd have killed you.
Charlie: Well, you better not have missed because we have nothing to prove.
Sylvie walks in and Charlie leaves. Mesrine gets angry with her for "shaking your ass all over the house." When she doesn't respond to his comment he says "Why do I bother, you're just a slut." The two of them argue, and he slaps her. She makes a remark about his "friend" and he says that Charlie was in the MSA with him, which is all she needs to know. Sylvie says "Francois was your friend. But you want the last word, so you always wind up alone.And that's how you'll end up Mesrine. Alone." He then asks if she's planning to leave him, but she says she wants them to leave Paris, and when he agrees, she doesn't believe him. She says "You'll get yourself killed Mesrine." but he insists that he won't, even promising her.

Soon Charlie comes to visit, bringing his wife and baby along. Charlie and Mesrine complain about the MSA conditions while the women just listen. Charlie says they need to free all the prisoners and make an army with them, while Mesrine insists that the way to revolution is to "hit them in the wallet." Charlie points out that the banks are still around. Mesrine starts talking about escaping prison four times, and tells CHarlie that it won't happen again, as this time they'll have to shoot him down. This upsets Sylvie who leaves the room. That night he reassures Sylvie that nothing bad will happen as long as they're together and she tells him she loves him, but they're interrupted by Charlie knocking at the door.

Mesrine asks Charlie if he knows a reporter named Dallier. And then shows CHarlie an article Dallier wrote that begins "Mesrine, the dishonorable bandit who betrays his friends and doesn't keep his word."  Mesrine is enraged and starts breaking things. Charlie asks Mesrine what he plans to do. We then see Dallier (Alain Fromager) on the street. with Mesrine and Charlie nearby acting inconspicously. Charlie tells Dallier to follow him and Mesrine tails them from a ways back, catching up with them at Charlie's car. He forces Dallier inside at gunpoint and drives him off. Mesrine asks him about the paper he works for and Dallier says he's quitting because they're too extreme. Dallier tells them how unhappy he is with France over the past few decades. Mesrine asks him what he thinks about the cops and he says they're a bunch of screw ups but to look out for Broussard as he's working on his daughter. He asks if he knows the cops plans for him and Dallier says "To kill you. No question about it." They continue driving to a dirt road in the woods, stopping at a cave, which they lead Dallier into after Mesrine prepares a space with candles. Dallier asks if they can start the interview and starts asking questions, which Mesrine doesn't bother answering. Finally he tells him to drop the microphone and strip. They then handcuff him and Mesrine says "It's Mesrine who's going to interview Dallier." just before he starts beating him, in between asking him questions like what his name is, where he works, and finally about the article he wrote. He beats him savagely so much so that Charlie is disgusted and has to tell him to stop before he kills him telling Mesrine "We're not fascists. He is. Blow him away. It's over. We're done." Mesrine shoots him several times and they leave him there.

Back at Mesrine's place, Charlie has a newspaper and tells Mesrine that Dallier is still alive. Mesrine says "So hat? Even better." Charlie counters that it's a catastrophe, and sending pictures of the bloodied Dallier has shocked even the sympathetic press. He explains "Dallier has a press ID, you attacked one of theirs."

Mesrine makes a recording for Sylvie to listen to in the event of his death.He records, "When a man has chosen to live by the sword, by theft, by violence, he doesn't often die in his bed. After all, whether it was me or the police who fired is not the point. My death is no more senseless than dying in a car crash or working in a steel factory for the man. So, you know, death, in the end, doesn't exist. Death is nothing to someone who knew how to live. At least I can say that I didn't waste my life. As a criminal, you can't succeed in life, but as for the heart, I had you, my love. As for being a criminal, I made a choice, you know. I chose to live comfortably, thanks to crime, always targeting. Well, almost always, I think, the well to do, the rich. Anyway, once I'm dead, I'm guilty of nothing, I've paid my dues. The odd thing is, some will see me as an example, a hero. But in reality, there are no heroes in crime. Only men who have chosen to live outside the law. I died with gun in hand, even if, and I don't know, I never had time to use it."

We move to November 2, 1979 and see Broussard and his men on the street. We see the same scene from the first film, Sylvie disguised and leaving the building with her dog, but this time we see that the cops are already watching her.There's even a cop hidden in the back of a truck she passes by, reporting where she's headed. As she goes out to the street, others are watching for her. They see Mesrine leave as well. Sylvie has no idea and signals that it's safe to come out. There are cops all along the street hidden, watching them. The cops in the truck with the tarp on it gets nervous when it appears Mesrine is approaching, and shuts off his walkie talkie.  They have guns pointed at him from inside just in case he pulls the tarp. They lose Mesrine when he goes to get the car, but pick him up again when he drives out, reporting that he's with the girl in the car.Mesrine backs up down the street and stops. Sylvie enters a building and Mesrine gets out of the car to wait, walking within reach of some hidden cops, making them very nervous. Broussard tells them to stay calm. Mesrine sees Sylvie exit the building and they both return to the car. The hidden cops report that the Sylvie put a package in the trunk and are headed toward the next set of cops. In the car Mesrine informs Sylvie that he has to meet Charlie somewhere alone about "The Red Brigade" Sylvie doesn't like that she can't go as well. The cops note that he's about to get to a red light. Broussard orders them "Set it up for Cligancourt. Don't let him on the expressway." Broussard and the ambush truck both head to Mesrine's location. The hiding cops all leave their hiding spots and rush that way as well. Mesrine and Sylvie make up, both smiling and the light turns green. Broussard gets caught in traffic and abandons his car, running there instead. The ambush truck driver waves, asking Mesrine to let him in front, to which Mesrine agrees.It then stops directly in front of them, while Broussard is still running to get there.The dog Sylvie has in her lap starts barking and Mesrine watches the tarp over the back of the truck get swept aside, exposing the cops with guns. Before he has a chance to move, they fire on him as Sylvie screams beside him. Another cop runs up from the street opens the driver's side door, and shoots the already very dead Mesrine in the head. ANother cop reaches them and pulls his guns on them demanding that the shrieking Sylvie get out of the car. ANother cop gets in Mesrine's side and rearranges Mesrine's weapons. Broussard finally reaches the car and instructs them to get Sylvie's dog to a vet.  He says "It's over." and we see Mesrine's face bloodied and slumped over motionless, with his eyes still open.


What About It?

Mesrine Part 2: Public Enemy #1, is a film about Mesrine, after he's become the notorious outlaw. Any struggle he had to balance a normal life with his outlandish lifestyle is gone. He has embraced his public persona entirely and even gets a great deal of pleasure from it. Mesrine was known as the "Man of 1,000 Faces" and we see that here, as he frequently changes his appearance, in varying degrees. The best element of his illusion however, is his confidence. Barely disguised at all he walks into a police station, demanding sensitive information from the Chief, which he gets without much difficulty even though his face is on a wanted picture right on the wall.

He enjoys being a celebrity as much as being a criminal and he plays the press to make him look good. The press rewards his interest by doing just that. Everyone believes in his celebrity, including the guards at the prison, who give him light his cigars and treat him as priveleged. He is no longer intimidated by the police and treats his questioning like a game. He enjoys playing too, as we see during his courthouse escape. After manipulating the system to get in the right courthouse, he manages to have a gun planted and grabbing a judge, for maximum impact, stages an escape certain to be well covered by the press.He still values his reputation as the "honest bandit." although the honesty is applied conveniently, especially when it concerns talking to cops. He has no problem lying about knowing his criminal associates.

Embracing his criminal celebrity, however, does not erase his ties, and the movie does focus on him coming to terms with the obligations he turned away from. He understands that he has made a choice, but nonetheless, can't deny certain obligations, visiting his father in a heavily guarded hospital, despite the expectation that he would do so. His scene with his father is telling, he apologizes for "not being much of a son" and for "how he is." assuring his father that it isn't his fault. He never makes any suggestion about changing, however, as if "who he is." is an irrevocable state of being. He has no plans to change, but is not without emotion. His regret comes across as quite genuine, his dying father being his only witness. His meeting with his daughter has similar qualities. He makes no promises to her or even suggestions that things will change. Nonetheless, it's clear he's happy to see her. It's also interesting that she seems to somewhat understand that he isn't going to change, but is just as thrilled to see him.

Mesrine is ruthless at times, but also very charismatic and charming when he chooses to be. A skilled manipulator, he's able to convince his lawyer to smuggle him guns into prison, despite the risk to her career.
He has no trouble entertaining a full courtroom, easily gaining sympathy despite serious criminal charges. People want to believe his persona, and people like to be around him. The relationships that most show his charm are those with his criminal partners, who tolerate his press obsession and his egocentric quirks without complaint until faced with something drastic. Ardouin is the closest to Mesrine, egocentric and flashy, enjoying the adrenaline and the lifestyle. He only splits after having a pistol fired right next to his ear,  a car accident, and a chase with bullets flying past. Even then, it's Mesrine's arrogance that forces the issue, we sense that if Mesrine would just stop bragging, Ardouin would have stuck around.

His partnership with Francois is interesting in that Francois seems absolutely unimpressed by anything including Mesrine. He's Mesrine's opposite, small to Mesrine's big, sullen to his cheerful. Francois is far more professional than Mesrine, preferring no media attention, content with the money gained from their jobs. He doesn't even care about spending the money or enjoying himself, having no use for the women Mesrine brings to their place, as in his mind, the risk they present outweighs the benefits. Mesrine's behavior stands out in the contrast and his claim that Mesrine is a "spinning top." rings all the more true, because Francois' focus highlights Mesrine's aimlessness. Their split also shows that Mesrine, on some level, truly believes himself a revolutionary, whether or not he is one. His claims in an interview that he'll train with Palestinians, and although seemingly just hyperbole, it does speak of his desire to be seen seriously in that light. Yet, his independence is more important than any revolutionary desire. His inability to come up with any real plan or even identify his problem with the system, makes his revolutionary claims appear to be a brick in his PR campaign and possibly a self justification of his lifestyle.

As presented here, it's the challenging of his persona that proves his undoing. He's first challenged at his trial when the judge interrupts his song and dance to say "He has forged the image of a nice man. An outlaw, of course, but one who wouldn't harm a fly, who even treats his victims kindly. What a joke! It is nothing more than a pretense to conceal his terrible ruthlessness. There are no honest gangsters. There are only gangsters. And you are a gangster, Mesrine. You fire without hesitation. When things go wrong, you go all the way. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, you must uphold the law and impose punishment. There is no society, if there is no punishment." The sentiment clearly makes sense to the jury as, they all vote to convict him, although his lawyer was probably right as well, in that they fear him as well as find him amusing. Mesrine treats this rebuttal as business as usual, but has a harder time countering his hostage, Lefevre's criticism. Lefevre, the slumlord, sees that they have much in common, and doesn't believe the "revolutionary" claim for a moment. Their exchange casts extreme doubt on Mesrine's position.
Lefevre: A revolutionary would have put a bullet in my head and left my corpse in the trunk of a car without ever asking for a cent. On the other hand, a gangster asks for ransom, picks up his money, and releases me. That's what you'll do."

Mesrine: You forgot the third possibility. I get the money, put a bullet in your head, and toss you in the trunk. There. You hadn't thought of that.
Lefevre: In that case, all the stuff in the papers, "Mesrine, the honest bandit whose word is his bond." that's all bullshit then."
And so Mesrine, the "celebrity" has overtaken Mesrine "the revolutionary." In typical fashion Mesrine has no answer for this, but he does as Lefevre claims he will which itself is an answer. Mesrine has no deep attachment to any position other than wanting to be celebrated in the press. He remains an opportunist, adapting to circumstances without much conviction behind his actions.

His final parership with Charlie shows a Mesrine poking at the edges of a revolutionary position. Charlie has the conviction that Mesrine doesn't and while Mesrine chides Charlie for his accounting to an organization, his conversation with Sylvie on their final car ride reveals that Charlie's position may well be winning Mesrine over. All it takes however, is one reporter to resist Mesrine's media manipulations to foil these plans. The assault on the reporter Dallier is a pivotal moment, revealing just how important his press is to him. His treatment of Dallier is enough to prompt Charlie to compare Mesrine to the fascists he despises. His hold on the press is broken by his impulsive assault. Thinking Dallier dead, he sends graphic photos to the papers, which make it difficult for them to support the "honest bandit" any longer, as he certainly appears more the "ruthless gangster" that the judge warned about.

The police prove just as ruthless in the end. Tired of Mesrine making them look foolish, here, they unquestionably stage an execution. Their fear of the man is obvious during their tailing of him, as we see the police nearly panic when Mesrine unknowingly lingers near their hiding positions. Broussard's knowledge of the operation is left unclear, as he arrives at the scene too late, and many of the officers appear to be acting outside the box. He certainly authorized lethal force, but whether he sanctioned murder is another question. Of course it's his job to present it as justified and he seems happy that whatever happened, it's over. The execution is expected by Mesrine, a natural outcome of his lifestyle. As he says in his recording to Sylvie "When a man has chosen to live by the sword, by theft, by violence, he doesn't often die in his bed. After all, whether it was me or the police who fired is not the point. My death is no more senseless than dying in a car crash or working in a steel factory for the man." What happened was inevitable.
Richet, has succeded in making an engrossing, and exciting gangster film. It's a great looking piece full of flawless performances. Cassel once again, steps into the gangster's skin and paints a convincing portrait of a scattered and ruthless man. Mathieu Amalric is perfect as Francois, the pessismistic practical partner who works so well as Mesrine's foil. His lack of expression is an expression itself. Olivier Gourmet's Broussard is terrific, particularly in the hotel apprehension scene, despite his work boundaries, he is nonetheless fascinated by Mesrine and despite his charge, easily drawn into his games. Gerard Lanvin's Charlie is perfect as the sincere revolutionary, who isn't above helping with a job. Ludivine Sagnier's Sylvie is captivating as a woman unlike the others, who sees who he is, and embraces him, although she still rightly fears where his actions will lead.

We see this Mesrine as a believable man, still the confused opportunist he always was, only now more focused by embracing his lifestyle completely. Ultimately, Mesrine himself isn't sure of his own goals, content to lash out at the nebulous forces, which he resents but can never really identify. His overriding motivation is his desire to be known and celebrated, in ways that conventional channels would never provide. He confirms the criticisms of the judge and of Lefevre and while he may have hoped to be a revolutionary, he doesn't get there. held in place by his own narcissism. Despite all his flaws however, Mesrine is entertaining, and does have some good qualites like a sense of style and loyalty to his associates. He doesn't appear to enjoy murder for it's own sake but as the judge said  "When things go wrong, you go all the way." In the end Mesrine chooses the form of tragedy his own life will take, perhaps justified in his own mind that he felt he really lived while he was around. He does accept some responsibility in his final address to Sylvie:
"Death is nothing to someone who knew how to live. At least I can say that I didn't waste my life. As a criminal, you can't succeed in life, but as for the heart, I had you, my love. As for being a criminal, I made a choice, you know. I chose to live comfortably, thanks to crime, always targeting. Well, almost always, I think, the well to do, the rich. Anyway, once I'm dead, I'm guilty of nothing, I've paid my dues. The odd thing is, some will see me as an example, a hero. But in reality, there are no heroes in crime. Only men who have chosen to live outside the law. I died with gun in hand, even if, and I don't know, I never had time to use it."


We're left with a picture of a man who really was like a spinning top and as Francois pointed out, the real tragedy is that he doesn't even know it.

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