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PRODUCTION France

Death Instinct and L'Ennemi public n°1 finally in production

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The saga of the double film project on gangster Jacques Mesrine, nicknamed "the man with 1000 faces", will soon be at an end with shooting due to begin on April 30 (see articles from 2003 and 2005).

Directed by Jean-Francois Richet and starring Vincent Cassel, both Death Instinct and L'Ennemi public n°1 (lit. “Public Enemy No. 1”) will recount the bloody crimes (30 murders) of a well-known criminal.

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The first film covers his return from the Algerian war to his departure for Canada in 1968, where he kidnaps a billionaire and escapes from prison before returning there to free his fellow inmates. According to Richet, "the first part is the most personal, it deals with Mesrine’s relationship with the women that shaped him."

So far, Death Instinct’s cast features Gérard Depardieu, who will play an older mentor gangster of Mesrine’s, as well as two actresses whose names will be revealed in two weeks. Marion Cotillard and Eva Green have been rumoured to star.

Both films were scripted by Abdel Raouf Dafri and will recount the gangster’s last years in France: from hold-ups, his arrest in 1973 (when he offered champagne to the commissioner who arrested him), his struggle against high-security prison conditions, breakouts, bank raids and kidnapping, to his death in an ambush held by police on November 2, 1979.

According to the director, “in the second film, he is all alone, a loudmouth. It’s an action film in which he gets the fatal bullet”. The cast includes Samuel Le Bihan, Olivier Gourmet, Jean-Pierre Cassel and Gilles Lellouche.

Produced by Thomas Langmann for La Petite Reine, both films carry a €35-€40m budget, including pre-sales and co-production funding from M6 Films, pre-sales from Canal + and backing from the Haute-Normandie region.

The two films will be produced in reverse order. L'Ennemi public n°1 will be shot entirely in France and has a 15-week shoot beginning April 30. Death Instinct will have another 15-week shoot starting on August 20 in France, Canada (three weeks, in co-production with Remstar), Spain and Algeria.

Pathé Distribution will handle the films’ French release and international sales with Reine Sales. This will be a fine challenge for Richet, who is making his fifth and sixth features after Etat des lieux, Ma 6-T va cracker, All About Love and Assault on Precint 13.

(Translated from French)

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