Taxi 2 Review

The Movie

In 1998 director Luc Besson gave us the original Taxi movie; in reality he came up with the story, while Gerard Pires directed. It was an amusing little tale about a manic taxi driver who is forced to help the police catch some criminals or lose his licence. It did well enough to warrant a sequel two years later, also written by Besson, and also directed by someone else, this time Gérard Krawczyk. Our two heroes return for this second instalment, the manic taxi driver Daniel (Samy Niceri) is still wooing his girlfriend Lilly (Marion Cotillard) but this time having to deal with her crazy army General father. Émilien (Frédéric Diefenthal) is still a hopeless cop and is still lustfully chasing after colleague Petra (Emma Sjöberg). After doing a favour for Lilly’s father and racing him to a meeting with the Japanese Defence Secretary at his usual breakneck speed in his now ridiculously souped-up Peugeot 406, Daniel finds himself roped in to do a demo run of a “terrorist proof” car that the French Government are hoping to flog to the Japanese. Of course, things do not go to plan and the demonstration turns into the real thing when Japanese Yakuza kidnap the Defence Secretary (and Petra). With the rest of the French police completely clueless, it’s up to Émilien and Daniel to save the day, taking them ultimately to a high-speed chase through the streets of Paris.

The first movie was hardly big on the realism front, but then it was never intended to be. It did however, have an entertaining story about how the two main characters came together and how they manage to break up a crime wave in Marseilles. This time around, as we already know the characters, any plot development is thrown away in favour of relentless action. And whereas the first film could be described as a comedy thriller, this one is played basically just for laughs. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as the action set pieces – certainly early on – are good. The problem is that it just gets sillier as it goes on. The final chase through the streets of Paris has more in common with Roger Moore’s dumb Parisian car chase in the 007 film A View To A Kill (and in another part the Blues Brothers) than it does to Ronin. Daniel’s “crazy taxi” has now got wings, for goodness sake. Another gripe is the slightly racist tone to this movie – constantly referring to the Japanese bad (and good) guys as “Nips” gets a bit much by the end. On the plus side, the main characters are still entertaining and the action (even the silly bits) is well directed. At only 84 minutes, it’s compact enough to race along from action-packed start to action-packed finish and still hold your attention.

Not anywhere near as good as the first film, but still quite fun in a very dumb kind of way. Even though it is inferior, it’s still worth a look if you did enjoy the original film. There is a third film in the pipeline, due out (in France) later in 2002. Hopefully they’ll remember to put a bit more story into that one.

The first movie suffered from a major problem for widescreen TV owners. The 2.35:1 image was non-anamorphic, but the problem was that the subtitles were burned into the lower section of the 4x3 image. So when you zoomed the picture to fill the screen, half the subtitles were chopped off (Michael Brooke's review from the time has all the details). This time, fortunately, no such problems exist. The 2.35:1 image is anamorphic, and the (optional) subtitles are positioned within the 16x9 frame. The image itself is pretty clear and very colourful, a tad too soft to warrant top marks, but very good nonetheless.

One thing that really improves the enjoyment of this noisy action film is the excellent soundtrack. This French Dolby Digital 5.1 track is one of the most aggressive and powerful I have ever heard. Sound effects pump out of all channels, music pumps out of all channels, and the .1 LFE gets a very vigorous workout. First rate.

If you want to slum it – or don’t have access to Dolby Digital – there is also a basic 2.0 track available. If you don’t have Dolby Digital this disc is as good a reason as any to upgrade.

Video Extras
There are a few extras here, and these include:

The Making of Taxi 2 Documentary is one of those candid, shot on a camcorder jobs which just shows you behind the scenes footage of the stunts being filmed, and chats to the main actors in the film. It is available with or without English subtitles. Ironically, these are positioned so near the bottom edge of the 4x3 image that using a special zoom facility on my widescreen television to fill the screen results in the lower line of the subtitles being chopped off. Still, much rather here than in the film. This featurette runs for nearly nine minutes.

The filmographies section does exactly what it says on the tin and lists the films of the main actors and the director. For each actor there is additionally an introduction for his or her character in this movie, which judging by the grammar appears to have been translated directly from French by an automated program like Babelfish. Similarly, for the director there are some production notes in which we learn that he had stood in as director on the previous movie for the first three weeks when the actual director was ill, and that he regarded this film as “like a new adventure of Tintin!”

Finally, the trailer is here, with fixed English subtitles.

DVD-ROM Extras
There is no ROM material available on this disc.

Final Thoughts
Taxi 2 is dumb fun for petrolheads and those who enjoy brainless action entertainment. The disc has none of the problems of the first movie’s DVD and – especially in the sound department – is technically excellent. Not many extras, but then not many were really to be expected.

If you haven’t seen the first movie, some retailers are offering a double pack of both movies for just a few pounds more than the price of Taxi 2 on its own.

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