"One for the motorheads, plenty of gear-grinding, engine-pounding action."
When you hear that Luc Besson wrote the script for Jason Statham’s 2002 tire-screecher The Transporter, you might wonder what on earth he was doing on such a project. You’d stop wondering the second you found out that Taxi 2, the sequel to Besson’s 1998 film Taxi, holds the record for the largest opening weekend box office in French cinema history. The premise of Taxi was simple – a pizza delivery driver who wishes to become an F-1 pilot instead finds himself slumming it as a taxi driver. When his souped-up taxi breaks the speed limit by a ridiculous amount, he’s asked to help catch some bank robbers in order to save his license. Loud engines and improbable car chases ensue. And ensue. And ensue.For the sequel, Besson hasn’t exactly stretched himself but most would suggest he doesn’t have to. The audiences came in huge numbers not because this was a story that had to be told, but because the film contains some of the biggest and most ridiculous car chases ever put on film. While the first film featured a cranked-up Peugeot that ripped up the roads, the sequel gives that car wings so it can jump further, a higher top speed, a parachute and of course, the ever-present automatic sick bag flap that opens in front of the passengers whenever the brakes are applied.
This time around there’s a plot involving the kidnapping of some Japanese dignitary by the Yakuza, which gives the producers plenty of opportunity to engage in complex fight scenes and a little racist humor that probably isn’t nearly out of place in France as it is here. Mind you, if you watch Lethal Weapon 4 and Rush Hour, North Americans aren’t averse to laughing along with racist humor, so no marks lost there.
Sami Narceri stars as Daniel, the husband to a sex-mad woman (Marion Cotillard) and driver of the fastest taxi this side of the Riviera. Naceri is just right for this role, completely goofy, unattractive and very much the kind of cab driver you’d hope to get if you needed to get to the airport in the next ten minutes.
Where the film goes wrong isn’t in the casting, its in the tendency to leave reality completely behind and expect the audience to come along regardless. When the chases are ground in reality, they’re awe inspiring. In fact, there’s a lot of humor built into these changes that will come at you out of nowhere and add to the experience. It’s when the driver hits a button on his dashboard and wings shoot out from the sides of the car that you’ll start groaning and checking your watch.A lot of fun and well worth tracking down, even if it’s only to observe the sleek styling and aerodynamic lines of the gorgeous Emma Sjöberg, my advice is to leave your expectations at home and just enjoy the ride.