Released as two separate features—Killer Instinct
(105 min.) and Public Enemy #1
(130 min.)—the relentless French crime saga Mesrine
(2008) traces the international career of Jacques Mesrine, whose seemingly endless string of bank robberies, kidnappings, and prison breaks throughout the 1960s and '70s turned him into a cult hero along the lines of John Dillinger. Comparisons with Michael Mann's recent Dillinger biopic Public Enemies
are inevitable, and mostly flattering to this project: director Jean-Francois Richet and screenwriter Abdel Raouf Dafri take advantage of the additional screen time (about 100 minutes more than Mann had) to flesh out their protagonist, who fancies himself an honorable thief and even a left-wing revolutionary but ultimately turns out to be something much simpler: a man who loves his work. Vincent Cassel sets a new standard for Gallic cool as the title character; the supporting players include Mathieu Amalric, Gerard Depardieu, Cecile De France, and Ludivine Sagnier.