Tag Archives: Emma Sjöberg

Taxi 2 (2000, Gérard Krawczyk)

Taxi 2 is a sequel in the least artistic, but possibly most admirable way. It picks up an indeterminate time after the first movie, doesn’t deal with the first movie’s conclusion (Samy Naceri becoming a race car driver), and doesn’t really have a story. Instead, it opens with a car chase, then some humor, then throws Naceri into an awkward dinner with girlfriend Marion Cotillard’s parents. It plays more like a reunion than a sequel (or continuation).

Luc Besson’s script takes place over a day and a half, with the half taking place mostly in the third act, so it’s all very fast. Once Naceri and Frédéric Diefenthal are reunited, Taxi 2 just goes. Besson fills the movie with references to the first (a pizza delivery guy, Diefenthal’s driving instructor), but also mimics it. Cotillard has even less to do in this one than the first, just waiting around for Naceri to show up. It wastes her, but given the movie’s practically a slapstick comedy… it doesn’t seem like it would have ever used her well.

Because the present action is long stretches of real-time, whether car chases or action sequences, and it only runs eighty-eight minutes, Naceri doesn’t run away with the movie like he did the first. Besson’s plot is overflowing, this time with a lot of cheap–but funny–laughs, like Diefenthal ending up in the trash again and again. There’s also Bernard Farcy’s bigoted police commissioner–and this time, the Japanese government is visiting, so he’s got a lot of great scenes. But Besson actually throws in a dog poop joke. It makes no sense (the dog poop is on the middle of an airport runway), but it’s absurdly dumb enough to be funny.

Actually, absurdly dumb and funny describes Taxi 2 well–Naceri’s taxi has wings this time and there’s a parachuting scene and a wonderful pile-up of police cars. Director Gérard Krawczyk does a mediocre action director job here, though he handles the humor rather well. His car chases, besides the beautiful Parisian backdrop, lack much excitement. Competent, but not compelling.

Inexplicably, I think the movie uses one of the familiar themes from one of Tarantino’s firsts. I can’t remember which film, but it certainly is recognizable and it seems odd. I mean, Besson’s been around longer than Tarantino. The music worked well, I guess.

It’s a fine enough time killer, with the ending even amusing enough to suggest it’s a better movie.

1/4

CREDITS

Directed by Gérard Krawczyk; written by Luc Besson; director of photography, Gérard Sterin; edited by Thierry Hoss; music by Al Khemya; production designer, Jean-Jacques Gernolle; produced by Besson, Laurent Pétin and Michèle Pétin; released by ARP Sélection.

Starring Samy Naceri (Daniel Morales), Frédéric Diefenthal (Émilien Coutant-Kerbalec), Marion Cotillard (Lilly Bertineau), Emma Sjöberg (Petra), Bernard Farcy (Commissaire Gibert), Jean-Christophe Bouvet (Général Edmond Bertineau), Frédérique Tirmont (Lilly’s Mother) and Shimizu Tsuyu (Yuli).


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Taxi (1998, Gérard Pirès)

Taxi benefits greatly from its length–eighty-six minutes–and from Besson’s general understanding of how to amuse an audience. He does it to some success in his American films (a rather limited one, but he manages to create likable characters and not bore the viewer), but with Taxi, he does a lot better. The main selling point of the movie, besides the car chases–filmed from helicopter, they’re the antithesis of a Bourne Ultimatum chase, rather interested in creating something cool to see–is lead Samy Naceri. Naceri–a quick wikipedia search reveals–is a lot of trouble, which might explain why he’s never immigrated to Hollywood… because Naceri runs the movie all himself. He’s charismatic and engaging and it doesn’t hurt Besson’s script makes him not just the protagonist, but the character the others all look up to….

He’s like a French George Clooney in one of the Ocean’s movies.

The scenes with Naceri are boring cop scenes, even if the captain is a raving bigot who can’t stop referring to the Germans as Nazis–which is funny, but it’s only a gag and it functions as well as one. There’s also the dumb romance between secondary lead Frederic Diefenthal (who’s probably 5’4″) and Emma Sjoberg (who’s 5’9″)–the height difference is supposed to be funny, get it? Besson’s humor is always very obvious and works real well when the joke punchlines and then goes away, because the joke’s done. When he keeps coming back to it (height difference, Nazis)… it’s a mess.

However, the romance between Naceri and Marion Cotillard is quite nice, because Besson plays the scenes out in a contained, limited environment, to great effect. Situation, difficulty, resolution. Taxi is far from art, so having a lame Freitag triangle for all its plots and subplots is perfectly fine. I mean, if it ran ninety-seven minutes… no. But any modern movie able to run eighty-six minutes and be entertaining for a large majority of them can be shallow. It gets a pass on depth requirements.

1/4

CREDITS

Directed by Gérard Pirès; written by Luc Besson; director of photography, Jean-Pierre Sauvaire; edited by Veronique Lange; music by Akhenaton; production designer, Jean-Jacques Gernolle; produced by Besson, Laurent Petin and Michele Petin; released by ARP Selection.

Starring Samy Naceri (Daniel Morales), Frédéric Diefenthal (Émilien Coutant-Kerbalec), Marion Cotillard (Lilly Bertineau), Manuela Gourary (Camille Coutant-Kerbalec), Emma Sjöberg (Petra), Bernard Farcy (Commissaire Gibert) and Georges Neri (Joe).


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