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cast: Samy Naceri, Frédéric Diefenthal, Marion Cotillard, Emma Sjöberg, and Bernard Farcy

director: Gérard Pirès

86 minutes (15) 1998
widescreen ratio 2.35:1
Prism Leisure DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 8/10
reviewed by Jeff Young
Here's a fairly tolerable but uninspired English dub version of the popular French comedic adventure (originally written by Luc Besson), translated for anglophiles unwilling or unable to cope with subtitles. Recently bastardised by Hollywood in yet another one of those unfortunate and wholly pointless remakes, Taxi tells the story of Daniel (Samy Naceri), an expert driver and crazily ambitious, wannabe cabbie, and Émilien (Frédéric Diefenthal), a hapless police detective with severe driving-skill deficiencies. Separately, they're something of a public menace on Marseilles' streets (Daniel plays havoc with paying passengers' nerves; Émilien damages property and causes headaches for the police insurance dept.), but together they're a diabolical crime-busting duo that put Batman and Robin to shame. While on the trail of a fearless and highly organised gang of German robbers, who are mightily opposed by arch-racist Commissaire Gibert (Bernard Farcy), Daniel and Émilien must put their unlucky off-duty lives in order as well as catching the bad guys...

Taxi is really a matchless riot of urban thrills, with crime/ buddy movie clichés overturned, and plenty of femme eye candy, particularly in the form of Daniel's girlfriend Lilly (Marion Cotillard), and super-cop Petra (endlessly leggy blonde Emma Sjöberg). The lively soundtrack perfectly compliments the dynamic car chases and crashes, keenly shot and sharply edited for maximum visual impact, thankfully sans the distracting MTV-style overly fast cutting that has spoilt many American thrillers of the last decade. The most important thing about Taxi is that all of its principal characters are better written and performed than the stereotyped (albeit gender-switched) versions of their characters in the dismally unfunny Hollywood remake - which, well, let's face it, only succeeds in being even remotely entertaining when its stunning quartet of foreign supermodels are on screen!

Long before this movie's exhilarating climax, you will be rooting for Daniel and Émilien despite their seemingly indelible character faults and quirky personality problems, and it's simply because neither are the boringly usual 'perfect' moral action heroes (in the Stallone or Schwarzenegger 'superman' mode). They are, in fact, all-too-human losers or staunch individualists (like Mel Gibson or Bruce Willis), and that's what makes them such appealing 'everyman' protagonists.

Now if only they'd release equally high-octane sequels Taxi 2 (2000) and Taxi 3 (2003) - both directed by Gérard Krawczyk - in a trilogy boxset, then car chase fans and motor-heads alike could die happy. Either way, Taxi is definitely one to buy, not rent, as it's almost certain you'll want to watch it again and again!

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