20th Century Fox/20th Century Fox Home Entertainment .
R4 . COLOR . 99 mins .
M . PAL
Fully Sick Mate!
Based on the original French film by Luc Besson, Taxi is another film singled out by Hollywood to be remade and Americanised for mass consumption. Having not been privileged to see the original yet on DVD I canít comment nor will I make any direct comparisons to it. Taxi stumbled into the box office early this year and quickly limped out, being universally panned by most critics and sundry. Is it really that bad? not really! Yes it could have been better, and a lot of the problem lies with Jimmy Fallon carrying the film.
Fallon who has made inroads into Hollywood with minor roles lately was tapped by Tim Story the director for the lead role opposite Queen Latifah making his feature film debut; as a lead. Those familiar with Saturday Night Live will be familiar with his off the wall kind of humor and therein lies the problem with this flick, having seen this film in a reasonably packed theatre when released. A good proportion of the crowd sat there silent, whilst a lot of the younger crowd used to this MTV style of humor lapped it up!
Jus'Hangin' wit' Jimmy!
Fallon plays Washburn, a bumbling detective that has stumbled from case to case throughout his checkered career with the NYPD. Having lost his squad car license after totaling a car during an undercover sting, he is busted back down to walking the beat by his ex-girlfriend lieutenant. Apparently Washburn and cars just donít go to together, as he has to eventually commandeer a Taxi to a bank robbery piloted by the baddest sista, Belle (Queen Latifah), who has spent the last couple of years hotting up her Crown Vic in preparation for her dream job as a cab driver; making all sorts of illegal modifications to the requisite cab a la Fast & The Furious. Belleís driving is the star of this picture, and the way these scenes are shot are incredible, with very little use of CG and the use of a new stedicam providing some of the most spectacular chase scenes captured on film.
Gisele Bundchen makes her big screen debut as the leader of a quartet of Brazilian super models that are doing over the banks in New York. Yup, you read that correctly. Now this is where you need to turn on your suspension-of-disbelief for the rest of the film and youíll be sure to enjoy what follows. Not content with being thrown off the case after taking a Taxi to the aforementioned robbery! Washburn enlists Belle to help him sniff out these Brazilian Hotties. (Ed: That last line is just wrong)
This unlikely pairing ultimately does more good than bad, with Belle making Washburn look positively stupid as they work through the case. Fallon & Latifah work well and you can tell that they're having fun with this pure escapist fluff and not taking themselves too seriously. And Gisele, well, she does her best at looking positively good, err bad as the pouty gun-toting bank robber!
Presented in 2.35:1 Widescreen &16:9 enhanced, the video is extremely colourful and vibrant featuring good colour saturation with decent levels of sharpness. This is nearly a reference transfer that is only marred by minor amounts of aliasing that can be seen on building windows during some of the camera pans across the city skyline, and a hint of edge enhancement in some scenes also. Night scenes are handled well with solid levels of blacks. As you would expect from such a recent film the print is free from common film artefacts.
The main feature is presented with a solid Dolby Digital 5.1 track that is fairly active throughout. The car chases within the film benefit from some nice front-to-back pans and vice-versa. Music is also prominent featuring a soundtrack of contemporary acts that keep's the action pumping along nicely. Dialogue is clear at all times with no obvious synch issues which is good for film that featured a fair amount of ADR. LFE levels were healthy too adding to the oomph of the performance vehicles and the poppy music cues.
This movie is presented two ways. You have a choice between the theatrical cut and a new extended cut via the use of seamless branching. Have no fear itís handled excellently without the pregnant pauses that plague some discs use of the technology. The extended cut is a mere 6 minutes longer comprising largely of scene extensions, and an extra scene or two.
Director Tim Story provides the solitary audio commentary and his enthusiasm for the film shows. A decent effort as far as commentaries go. He shares a lot of insight into the production and the choices made as far as casting and film making techniques are concerned. There are 4 deleted scenes that add little to the feature and are easy to see why they were omitted.
The Russian Arm
There are 5 Featurettes packed onto this release. The Meter's Runnin Ė Making Taxi (20:11): is a decent behind the scenes piece opening up with Jimmy horsing around with the extras cameraman poking fun at the DVD consumer at the value theyíre getting by purchasing this DVD for what they are seeing here: behind the scenes! There are also a number of interviews with the director as well plus the rest of cast and crew also. There is some good insight into a new piece of equipment used to film some of the high speed chases. The director obtained a new stedicam crane device dubbed ďThe Russian ArmĒ that can be attached to another vehicle that is driven at the same speeds as the others allowing a range of movement that previously only existed in the realms of CG.
Lights, Camera, Blue Screen (5:22): Interviews with the effects guys regarding some of blue screen work done for the feature. Too short to be of any of interest; it skims over the top of things very quickly. Tour Guide: Jimmy Fallon (5:22): basically has Jimmy just goofing around on set poking fun at the crew, and some of the equipment.
Reel Comedy: Taxi (21:13): is a shameless bit of cross promotion; featuring two of the cops (Ben Garant & Thomas Lennon) from the excellent farce cop show Reno 911. They happen to be two of the three writers for the movie Taxi. The two are in their characters from Reno 911 and interview Fallon, Latifah, & Gisele. This is done pretty much for laughs rather than your usual fluff EPK.
Insert non-sexual innuendo here please.
And lastly Beautiful Criminals (2:34): Not too sure what to classify this one as, or why itís actually here. This is pretty much for the raincoat brigade. What you get is all the good bits featuring all the Brazillian Bank Robber Hotties looking stunning edited together for one debauched bit of T&A!
The following trailers precede the DVD along with that god-awful anti-piracy warning, they can be skipped using the forward button. They are: Dodgeball, The Clearing, I Heart Huckabees, Sideways, The Simpsons DVD Collection, & Arrested Development. Unusually the trailer for the film isnít here.
Itís no secret that this film was a vehicle (pardon the pun) for Fallon to crossover from the small screen. Overall itís probably a bit too early for Jimmy to carry a film himself. Some scenes just fall flat due to some heavy improvisation; a fault of the director really for not reigning Fallon in when he should have. If not for Queen Latifahís presence, and Gisele Bundchenís dangerous curves; this movie would have deserved to go straight to video.
However, Taxi does feature some incredible driving stunts, along with some incredible cinematography from the use of the new camera crane employed. Presented with excellent audio and video Taxi is very much a good way to pass a Saturday night, over a few cold ones. Just donít expect anything life changing from your viewing and you'll have a good time