Reviewed by: Scott Macdonald

When a car chase has purpose, vigour and surprises, it takes off the road and into a great out of body experience. The Matrix Reloaded and The French Connection are two wonderful movies, lifted by an outstanding chase to dig narrative claws into the audience. Heck, even Rob Cohen's The Fast And The Furious excels with machismo, pluck and energy amongst the bad acting and formula writing. Even the thinly scripted Ronin is something of a heist masterpiece, purely by having the greatest real car chase in modern cinema. By comparison, Taxi robs blind from inferior movies and dials up cliches, like Speed's impossible freeway launch, only without any kind of a build up. A chase is only exciting if we care about the hunter, or the hunted.

The film begins with a motorcycle courier screaming through New York, pulling off all kinds of fantastic stunts, zipping from one location to another. After a spectacular climax to the sequence, we are sucker-punched by a cliche. The unknown motorbike magician removes the helmet and it's Queen Latifa (er... wooo!). She plays Belle, a courier on her last day of work. Her next port of employment is to become a taxi driver and she's been saving for years to build the ultimate cab, with near ridiculous modifications and speed demon horsepower under the bonnet. How does she afford it? Who cares? Not the writers, that's for sure, and we've got 90 minutes of inane drivel to go.

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In this unexciting entry into the buddy-movie genre, the other party is a hopeless cop, Washburn (Jimmy Fallon). He blows busts, causes accidents and has just had his driving license suspended by his boss (the delectable Jennifer Esposito, who is as convincing as Sean Connery doing his Russian sailor impression). Some supermodel vixens rob a bank and Washburn ends up having to commandeer a vehicle in a high-speed pursuit. Fortunately (or not), he grabs a hold of Latifa's cab.

I could take such a skinny script if the action's compelling, the movie crisply pieced together and nothing wasted. Alas, the remainder of the film is geek comedy (squeaky voices aren't funny any more), appallingly extravagant car crashes and useless amateur character dramatics. Latifa does what she can with the material, but the relatively unknown - this side of the pond, at least - Fallon is quickly sidelined into the "deeply irritating" pigeonhole. Mismatched partners, without a hint of real character sparring, swiftly become as bearable as fingernails on a blackboard.

The gag hit to miss ratio goes pear-shaped very rapidly, with nary a titter. It might have been funnier with a better storyline and some knowing irony, but there's nothing particularly witty about any aspect of the production. It throws lots of insubstantialities at the audience; volume set to 11 throughout, meaning that nothing has weight, or build up.

There is not a single shred of a reason for anyone to pay money to see this movie. Save your cab fare and walk on by. It is the most spectacularly dumb and insulting film of 2004. Full of miscalculations, a complete lack of a pulse and cynically milking previous material, Taxi is an embarrassing formula picture, the very definition of expensive direct-to-cable garbage.

Reviewed on: 20 Nov 2004
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American remake of French action comedy about a racing cab driver and a silly cop.
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Director: Tim Story

Writer: Ben Garant, Thomas Lennon, Jim Kouf, based on the 1998 screenplay by Luc Besson

Starring: Queen Latifah, Jimmy Fallon, Henry Simmons, Jennifer Easposito, Giselle Bundchen, Ana Cristina De Oliveira, Ann-Margaret, Ingrid Vandebosch, Magali Amadei

Year: 2004

Runtime: 97 minutes

BBFC: 12A - Adult Supervision

Country: US/France


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