I read a little bit about Mesrine before going to see this movie so knew a little on the background of this in advance. The storyline, the direction, the production and above all, the acting (not just Cassel), is second to none. Vincent Cassel plays the part of Mesrine with an ability that is normally only credited to actors such as De Niro. Indeed, the way Cassel is able to say so much and in fact, change the entire mood of a scene, with just an expression is certainly reminiscent of Mr De Niro.
Apparently when Mesrine was at his crooked peak in France, he became something of a pop-icon, anti-hero for the disenfranchised people of Paris. This is depicted beautifully in this movie because, despite his abhorrent crimes, there is something incredibly cool and likeable about him.
I have to take my proverbial hat off to the makers of this movie (and part 2) for making such a thrilling ride from start to finish. Like one of the other reviewers say, this sounds long at 2+ hours but each scene is action packed.
If you want a break from the usual boil-in-a-bag hollywood movies, do yourself a huge favour and buy this.