Long time readers will know I have a bit of a soft spot for one Luc Besson, best known for “Leon” and “The Fifth Element” and, most recently, “Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Planets” amongst others.
But, for reasons I’m not quite sure of, Taxi has always passed me by. Besson apparently wrote it in just 30 days whilst he was waiting on the studio to decide whether to make “The Fifth Element”, they did, so he passed directing duties to Gerard Pires.
It’s silly, fun and quick, literally and figuratively. It concerns Daniel Morales, Samy Naceri (who went on to star in all of the Taxi films), a pizza delivery guy who breaks all sorts of speed and time records, and some laws, on his scooter.
But he really wants to be on four-wheels and, finally, he gets his taxi licence. He drives his souped-up Peugeot, with a V6, and lots of other tricks, getting people to their destinations in record time.
However, one day he picks up Emilien, Frederic Diefenthal (“Elite Squad (TV)”, “I Want It All”), a cop who is a bit of a doofus and is on his last life within the squad.
Daniel thinks Emilien works at IBM and is going to the police station to do some work. They argue in the cab, about jobs and things, and Daniel shows off, speeding, giving Emilien the perfect excuse to show his badge when they arrive at their destination.
Before he cancels Daniel’s license though, Emilien realises they can help each other. As Emilien can’t drive, and has failed his test eight times, he can use Daniel’s skills behind the wheel to catch the ‘Mercedes Gang’, who are robbing banks across France.
The pair form an unlikely partnership and attempt to bring down the gang, going rogue and employing all sorts of tricks to catch them.
You watch Taxi for a few reasons; the first is for Marion Cotillard (“Inception”, “The Dark Knight Rises”) in what is her breakout role. The second is the humour, which is a touch slapstick but has its moments and the final is for the car chases.
The Peugeot, and chasing Mercedes’s, weaves in and out of the Marseille traffic, and the opening scene, with the scooter, is fantastic.
By no means is Taxi a classic. It’s a lot better than the 2004 Queen Latifah remake, but it’s not going to be high on your Luc Besson list, but it is fun, and there’s nothing wrong with that every now and again.