March 11th, 2002. John R. takes the head of security and 17 others hostage in Amsterdam biggest skyscraper. John R. demands to speak with the Philips head of Sound&Vision. His goal is to ... See full summary »
Dennis van der Horst is a kind-hearted young entrepreneur. He lives by the rules of the street. The only people he feels any responsibility for are his brother Marco and his family, who are not very well off. When Dennis gets the chance to obtain an extremely expensive but lucrative taxi-license, he seizes it. In the presence of the manager of MOTAX, the only taxi company in Amsterdam, Dennis borrows a very large sum of money. Dennis is beside himself with joy. The hustling is over. Soon however Dennis finds out that there was a reason why it was so easy for him to obtain such a scarce license. The law is being altered, allowing competition on the taxi market. The licenses of Dennis and many of his colleagues all at once become worthless. As of that moment there is a war going on in the streets of Amsterdam. Dennis gets deeper into trouble when he finds out that he has unwittingly become part of the criminal organization behind MOTAX. Even the police turn out to have secret ties with ... Written by
Francis Anthony Ribbens
I missed out on this film in cinema, but having been a taxi driver for many years, I still had to catch this one. I followed the conflict in the Amsterdam taxi world a couple of years ago (mostly in 2000, when the new taxi-law came into effect) with great interest, so I gathered this one was worth a look, all the more because of the film's enthusiastic reception, but what a disappointment this was. I could hardly believe what I saw. It really gave me a bad taste. The story revolves around main character Dennis (Frank Lammers) who loans a large sum of money to start up his own business. Naturally, he engages himself with the wrong people and gets himself into debt and all kinds of trouble with malicious characters in the taxi business. All this is set against the background of the tumultuous developments in the taxi branch in 2000, the year when a new "taxi law" was passed with the consequence that every idiot with a car and drivers license could become a taxi driver. The hitherto insanely expensive (and hard to get) taxi permits, sometimes acquired for hundreds of thousands of guilders with lent money, became worthless overnight.
Director Dana Nechustan and writer Franky Ribbens chose to make this as a human drama, rather than an account of the taxi conflict itself, but storywise the conflict ultimately is the sole drive for every action Dennis takes. It soon raised all kinds of questions with me and I kept asking myself; why is he going through all this trouble in the first place? The choice for a more human approach could have been a wise choice, if all the other characters weren't this collection of grossly inflated stereotypes. The taxi drivers are all racist idiots, muscle men or just plain stupid. Even main character Dennis and his brother (Fedja van Huet, not for a moment believable as a lower-class Amsterdam car mechanic) come off as little more than caricatures. The story is kept going by Dennis' utterly stupid and ultimately annoying self-destructive behaviour. There are some outside forces at work here to make his life miserable, but there were moments I hoped some of the bad guys could beat some sense into him. I doubt if this was the makers' intention. The actions of Dick Grijpink and his TCA-related bad guys are nothing more than a logical response to Dennis' stupidity. He's just so incredibly dumb and stubborn in his actions, I couldn't relate to the character at all. Very little he does, makes any sense.
The film confirmed what I already knew, as most tourists visiting the Dutch capital probably learned as well.
Don't take a taxi in Amsterdam, unless you absolutely have to.
I have a weak spot for Frank Lammers, but this film stinks.
Camera Obscura --- 3/10
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