“Taxi” is a difficult film to categorize. It could be labeled as a buddy picture, a crime drama, an action flick, or a “stupid cop” comedy. But no matter what it gets called, “Taxi” offers a surprisingly fresh take on previously explored genres.
Belle Williams (Queen Latifah) has the fastest illegally modified cab in New York. But on her first day as a licensed cab driver, she unwittingly picks up police officer Andy Washburn (Jimmy Fallon), a dimwitted undercover cop completely incapable of driving a car. Washburn has Williams take the cab to a bank robbery and pursue the getaway car, driven by four Brazilian supermodel bank robbers. Although Williams and Washburn lose them at first, they team up to pursue the clever Brazilians, in spite of an uncooperative police department.
The tone of the film is a significant change for director Tim Story, who is best known for his work in “Barbershop,” because race seems secondary in “Taxi.” At the same time, the film maintains a palpable undercurrent of racial incongruity, especially in one painful scene where Washburn’s mother mistakenly thinks Williams is his girlfriend and wonders if he has “jungle fever.”
One surprising thing about “Taxi” is that it is the first major film to prominently feature sexy female bank robbers. However, this development might just be a natural evolution in the “girls kicking ass” subgenre championed by films like “Charlie’s Angels” and “Kill Bill.” If hot heroines decapitating innumerable bad guys sells movie tickets, then sexy Brazilian robbers, played by actual Brazilian models including Gisele B