Taxi (1998)

(In theaters, November 1998) You probably won’t see this until it’s (inevitably) remade as a big-budget Hollywood production, and you’ll be missing a pretty good compilation of car chases. French action films aren’t too common (two of the last few were remade as Point Of No Return and True Lies), but Taxi has the added pedigree of a script by Luc Besson. Granted, that’s not much of a recommendation in the storytelling department. Still, Besson’s flair for imaginative action set-pieces are obvious, and you haven’t seen a car chase until you’ve seen one through the terrifyingly cluttered French streets. (It’s worse than in Ronin.) It was a treat to see an action movie with the characteristic French rhythms and attitude. Taxi loses points for inane episodic incidents, nonsensical setups, juvenile humour and a gratuitous usage of drugs but does sports a few niiice gun battles and high-speed driving. The last stunt is pretty cool, if unlikely. I’m actually looking forward to the Hollywood remake!

(Second viewing, On DVD, February 2003) There’s a lot of dumb stuff in this film and, upon seeing it again on the small screen, not as much action as I remembered. But it’s still a lot of fun, thanks to the dynamic performances of the leads and some inspired action directing. The script may be dumb, but it’s dumb in a charming way. The fact that it comes from France is a plus in itself, as it offers something different than the usual sunny L.A. backdrops we could expect from such a story. The region-one DVD has the film, the trailer, and not much else.

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