After last week's Part One of the crime saga of Jacques Mesrine, Killer Instinct, Part Two dives into the '70s and sees Mesrine (Vincent Cassel) notching up another prison escape, cycling through disguises, and ratcheting up his media provocations. A couple of new actors come aboard: Mathieu Amalric, as a co-fugitive through farmhouse and roadblock, stares daggers, seemingly waiting for the movie to end; Ludivine Sagnier struts as Mesrine's horny, devoted moll, including during a brief but interminable yay-we're-rich montage. Mesrine name-drops terrorist groups to get a rise out of police, journalists, and colleagues. (Meanwhile, the Red Brigade saga of kidnapped former Italian prime minister Aldo Moro plays on TV.) But, like so much else, these hints at time and place are never developed. Exactly one sequence takes off—Mesrine's kidnapping of a crotchety 82-year-old real estate mogul, who bargains his captor down—and little energy is left by the time he gets to his notorious torture of a badmouthing journalist. Mesrine's promised end in November 1979 arrives as history recorded it. By that time, however, you're hoping the next vogue in biopics is the short film. Director Jean-François Richet's buffet-style telling is about as epic as Cassel's dutifully acquired second-half potbelly—and no more profound.
Cassel as the criminal, late in his career.
Opens at Harvard Exit, Fri., Sept. 3. Rated R. 134 minutes.