• Mesrine: L'instinct de mort / Killer Instinct (2008)

     

    The two Mesrine movies are easily the best gangster movies of the last years and can without a doubt be described as the French Godfathers even though the two films have not exactly the same class as the legendary masterpieces.

    The thing that is really interesting about this movie is that it is told after true events and partially based on the autobiography of the French gangster and public enemy number one Jacques Mesrine. The movie makes very clear that one can't develop much sympathy for the character but his radical way of life, his brutal honesty and his strong and dangerous emotions surely create a very addicting, explosive and unique character.The first movie tells his life from his actions during the Algerian War up to his escape from a prison in Quebec.

    The character is introduced in a very interesting way. One witnesses his first theft, his first murder as well as his first escapes from prison but also how he gets into the crime scene, how he gets to know his second wife and how he gets along as his role as a father of three children with her. Mesrine always chooses the craziest, most radical and often most selfish way to escape from his problems. This movie is not just a gangster saga filled with action and tension but has also an emotional touch of the drama genre and some dark and sarcastic humour.

    Mesrine is perfectly portrayed by one of the best contemporary actors coming from France which is Vincent Cassel. Roy Dupuis plays the very charismatic Canadian terrorist and Mesrine's âme soeur Jean-Paul Mercier. The French acting crème de la crème appears in this first part of the legacy. Cécile de France plays Mesrine's future girlfriend and partner in crime that finally decides to chose the path of freedom and justice. Gérard Depardieu plays the intelligent gangster boss Guido. Ludivine Sagnier portrays Mesrine's latest girlfriend and excels in her role as a superficial blonde with fixations on a bourgeoisie lifestyle. The acting of this movie is really stunning and every actor plays his or her role close to perfection.

    The movie also discusses topics such as love, friendship, treason, loyalty, respect and more in a very intense way and how Mesrine feels about it. He is a very extreme personality and some of his actions contradict what he has already done or will do in the future and this shows how fragile this gangster really is.

    The greatness of this movie does not stop there. The part of the movie when Mesrine is put into a French Canadian prison is very intense. It is not only well filmed with interesting camera positions and cold, touching decorations but reminds me of legendary prison movies such as "Papillon" or "The Shawshank Redemption" and contains some well hidden but intense criticism. Mesrine's escape from prison eventually led to the closure of those inhuman French Canadian prisons and this movie shows us the way of life in this hell in a very intense way. The movie also slightly criticizes the corruptive justice and police in France as well as the way how the medias deal with Mesrine's fate and make an iconic modern Robin Hood out of a dangerous and ignorant gangster that begins to use the medias for his own good and enjoys the show.

    As you can see, the movie contains many different elements and details that make it a very diversified, intense and still entertaining gangster movie which happens to be one of the best of its kind. If you like "The Godfather", "Once Upon A Time In America", "Papillon" and "The Shawshank Redemption" you should definitely check this masterpiece out. If you happen to like this movie, you should absolutely try to get the German gangster and terrorist movie "Der Baader-Meinhof-Komplex" which is also based on true events and happened at the same time as Mesrine became the public enemy number one in France. The French movie has also some connections to those events as Mesrine talks from time to time about it as you should have noticed.

    In the end, this movie about an extreme and charismatic character is way more than an excellent gangster movie with some social criticism but a gripping two hours of history class.

    The only reason why I didn't give the highest possible note is that I would have liked to learn more about the youth of Mesrine. For example, the movie didn't show us his very first wife and how he quit her to go to the Algerian War. It didn't show us how he got honoured by the French government and military for his heroic actions during wartime. It didn't show us how he got caught the first time during a bank theft and how he dealt with it. Those little elements could have made the character even more intense, profound and interesting but a part of that, there is really nothing negative about this amazing movie.

     

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  • Impasse du désir (2010)

     

    It's a shame that this movie didn't get the attention it would have deserved. Michel Rodde delivers us a slow development of a gripping drama that turns into a psychological thriller.

    The main actors coming from France and Quebec convince and get a great and detailed development throughout the movie after a somewhat mellow start. Especially Rémy Girard seems to get better every year and delivers the best job of his life in here. Laurent Lucas is a promising young French actor that I didn't know before and his performance inspires me to keep an eye on him and check out his other projects. But even the secondary characters are all detailed, profound and important for the development of the movie and there is not one single unnecessary scene if you analyze this movie after knowing its unusual ending.

    The movie is filled with interesting relationships and connections. The movie has many subtle details that lead to a stunning twisted ending that leaves many questions open and makes us think, interpret and analyze a lot. The last thirty minutes or so are filled with many surprises and have a much faster vibe than the slow first two thirds of the movie which makes me think of many great psychological thrillers. Now for the story itself, this one is authentic and one can easy identify with the characters which is one of the strongest points of the movie that distinguishes this small masterpiece from other flicks of its genre.

    In the end, I am happy to have stumbled over this flick. I thought I would get some solid entertainment and a mixture of a drama and a suspense movie but this film got me by surprise and after some doubts in the beginning I realized I discovered a great gem, a little masterpiece, a true treasure and I want to share my thoughts with the community and suggest any fan of surprising suspense movies and gripping dramas to check this underrated movie out at all costs. It's worth your time, patience and money and you won't soon forget this.

     

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  • Steel Trap (2007)

     

    This is the second part of my little review series: Movies that are way better than you expect.

    "Steel trap" seems at first sight to be another ordinary psychological thriller or slasher movie in the shadows of the great "The cube", "Mind Hunters" and "Saw". I expected a movie of a quality comparable to "House of 9" or "Nine dead" but I was rather wrong.

    The movie starts with the introduction to some stereotypical and rather ordinary characters and I was already close to judge the lack of originality of this movie. When the killing game began I was positively surprised for the first time. The acting wasn't that wooden and rather realistic and appropriated.

    The next surprise followed quickly. The killing methods turned out to be rather original, the atmosphere was sinister and gripping and the whole story attached me more to the characters. The movie got truly entertaining and addicting and I kept guessing who was behind the bloody murders and why. The great thing is that there are many wrong clues and also some right ones and I happened to analyze the behaviour of each candidate and had to change my mind and opinion many times.

    The third and last great surprise is without a doubt the twist in the end of the movie that I didn't really see coming. Normally, I have some doubts and am able to get on the right lane but this time, I got completely bumped. This ending really rated this movie way up beyond the average slasher flick.

    To keep it short, this is a rather original and gripping movie of a more and more popular genre and the rating average in here is definitely way too low. The movie is entertaining and an ideal choice for any horror movie night with your mates and you will keep guessing and expecting until the very end.

     

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  • Eye Of The Storm (1991)

     

    Honestly said, this movie is a rather mediocre and even quite boring thriller with the usual scenario. There is not much tension or action in the movie and there are many lengths. Many people talk about twists and surprises but anyone that has already seen a couple of movies of the same genre won't be surprised at all. I was stunned reading about a twist in the film on this site and looked up on the internet if I had missed a detail but in fact the so called surprise was a clear fact for me right on from the beginning so that I didn't even realize it could have been a surprising element of the movie. Don't expect anything outstanding, memorable or intense in this flick.

    This movie steals many elements from some classic suspense flicks like "Psycho" or "Blue Velvet" without reaching the intensity of those original masterpieces. A part of the human and tragic story of the two brothers, this movie adds nothing interesting to the genre at all. The plot is very thin, the dialogues are sometimes very artificial, the filming is rather old fashioned and some elements like the desert storm are completely unnecessary and add nothing to the main plot. The whole thing truly gets ridiculous in the end when the final showdown almost fails to find an end. I'm a little bit surprised that actors like Hopper and Boyle who have worked with the "crème de la crème" of Hollywood writers and directors have accepted acting in this weak flick.

    What keeps me away from giving an even lower rating to this movie can be resumed in a couple of points. First of all, the opening scene is rather heavy to digest and a good way to kick this movie off. We have the true highlight right in the beginning. Another good point is the acting of some of the characters. The blind brother is well and emotionally played and the weird villain is a signature role for a great actor like Dennis Hopper. The other two main characters do a rather weak job in here though and the interactions between them are poor. I was negatively surprised by Lara Flynn Boyle that did a great job at almost the same time in the "Twin Peaks" series. Another good aspect is the emotional background story of the two brothers and their tragic fate.

    I really can't suggest this film to fans of psycho thrillers or suspense flicks. This movie isn't even worth to be bought at a low price or rented at your local gas station. I am happy I only saw it on television and had at least some more or less entertaining hours in a relaxed atmosphere. Go for any other suspense movie I have mentioned in my reviews if your looking for a better genre flick.

     

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  • 2:22 (2008)

     

    I bought this movie at a low price because I thought that the plot idea was intriguing and because Val Kilmer was starring in this flick.

    In the end, many great ideas and a lot of potential wasn't well used. The title seems to underline the importance of a certain time that was finally completely redundant. The connection between several events in the hotel like the suicide of an old man and, the strange sex scenes between a television star and his bodyguard and the meeting between one of the gangsters and the ex-wife of the investigating police officer. Many scenes are rather redundant, especially in the first thirty minutes or so when the thieves are introduced, sometimes is a completely boring way and sometimes in a crazy and exaggerated way. When the thieves get out of the hotel you expect an intriguing investigation story or some fatal encounters or coincidences but instead of continuing on a high level after the intriguing hotel sequences, the movies slows down and goes nowhere before a dramatic and tragical conclusion kicks off.

    Sometimes, I think that the movie wants to be too many things at the same time. For a thriller, there is not enough tension in it and not enough surprises as we quickly now what will happen in the next one and a half hour. For a tragic drama, the characters are not profound and touching enough, even in the fatal ending. For an action movie, there are not enough special effects a part of the shooting scenes. For a comedy movie, there are only a few entertaining slapstick scenes that happen in the hotel. The problem is that the movie has many ups and downs and all the mentioned elements are used in a rather incoherent way without any dominating genre. The mixture doesn't create an original melting pot but rather a strange and mixed up potpourri that fails to work. Let's also mention that the great Val Kilmer has only two little scenes and a redundant role of a paranoid diamond dealer and is one of many unnecessary sidekicks that add nothing to the main plot even if you exactly expect that in the beginning and his role could have rated up this movie by much.

    In the end, we have a diversified and entertaining movie here that has some good ideas but a bad executions and too many ups and downs. The good elements are the entertaining hotel sequences and the diversified soundtrack. One could have done a movie of three hours with all the different characters but chose to concentrate on only a couple of elements that are randomly chosen.

    The ending is disappointing and too simple. The acting is too wooden and the characters itself not profound enough. The plot scratches on an interesting surface but doesn't go deep enough. Many sidekicks turn out to be completely unnecessary. There are too many missed occasions and wrong expectations in this movie. The movie is worth being watched once because of its interesting story basis but that's more than enough.

     

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