Belle Williams is a speed demon. Flying through the streets of New York in her tricked-out taxi, she's earned a rep as New York's fastest cabbie. But driving a hack is only a pit stop for her real dream: Belle wants to be a race car champion. And she's well on her way--until she's derailed by overeager cop Andy Washburn, whose undercover skills are matched only by his total ineptitude behind the wheel. Washburn, whose lack of vehicular skills has landed him in the precinct doghouse, is hot on the heels of a gang of beautiful Brazilian bank robbers, led by Vanessa, their cold, calculating--and leggy--leader. To nab the evasive crooks, drivers license-less Washburn convinces Belle to team up with him to pursue Vanessa and crew. Belle has carte blanche to drive at any speed and break any law. The car-less cop and speed-demon cabbie--New York's unlikeliest partners-- begin a high-speed game of cat and mouse with the robbers. That is, if Belle and Washburn don't end up killing each other ...Written by
Sujit R. Varma
Boys will like it but the rest of us will be turned off by the lack of imagination, spark or anything resembling originality
Washburn is an undercover cop who, after yet another job ending in a crashed car, has his license taken away and put back on the street. Meanwhile cycle courier Belle has finally gotten her taxi license and is preparing her souped up vehicle for the New York City streets. When a bank robbery in progress is called in, Washburn commandeers Belle's cab and gets involved in a high-speed chase with a group of Brazilian supermodels in a red BMW. Thrown off the case by the FBI, Washburn wants to catch the gang to get his job back, while Belle agrees to help so that she can get her taxi out of lockup.
I quite liked the original for what it was so I decided to give this film a try to see if it could manage to be fun. I'll be honest and say that the trailer attracted me because it had car chases, a bit of a laugh and some faux-lesbian teasing there, gone are my 'art-house' credentials! I hoped that these elements could be kept fun and that the film could have a spark to it in some area that would raise it above the genre and actually make it fun to watch. Sadly I was wrong and my worries about the effort put into this film were realized in the first few minutes of the film where a skinny person on a bike is revealed to be Belle even though their body shapes could not be more different! With this lack of attention to detail I did not have high hopes but I figured I was being picky and tried to get past it. However from here on in everything is exactly as you would expect lacking imagination and effort in almost every regard.
The plot is nonsense but to pick on that is to be too demanding because none of us expected anything too cohesive or logical but suffice to say that attempts to build stories around the characters are all flat and uninteresting. However what I did need from the film was action, excitement, comedy and spark. The action is OK but nothing special the use of CGI cars to make impossible stunts really takes away from the impact of the action, while the limitations of the busy streets means that the car chases are very tightly cut and never feel real and impressive. This reduces how excited the audience can feel and me and the other 15 people in the cinema sat rather impassive for most of the action scenes. With this OK, then the comedy needed to match it to produce an OK film, but it didn't. Not at all. The comedy is partly based on that wonderful comic device that black people are cool and sassy while white people are geeky and uptight. Oh, how I never tire of seeing racial stereotypes enforced in the name of comedy. With this old chestnut wheeled out again, the rest of the comedy falls into line and I never really laughed more than once. The button pushing and lack of imagination continues with the robbers themselves who are nothing more than legs and skin who are there to attract an idiotic and salivating male audience (ie me) on the promise of titillation. They don't deliver this very well at all and the scenes where they try to feel cheap, tacky and exploitative instead of sexy and fresh.
The cast are lumbered with the material but they don't do as much as perhaps they could have done to make it better. Fallon is annoying and geeky simply filling the 'white' cliché in the 'cool black/geeky white' combo. Latifah continues to just play the easy ethnic cliché stuff for every penny.
I don't know if she is like this in real life but I must admit that I do find her ethnic cliché to be lazy and rather offensive her smart-mouth, impatience and speed to violence has been in many of her last few roles and I don't think it is the best use of her position, but then again if you put money in front of me then I'd probably do the same. Esposito is pretty wasted in a thankless role before being used as a piece of meat for the sake of selling the film to the male audience (yes, yes, I admit it). The models are nothing but eye candy and I didn't think they did it very well.
Overall this is not a terrible film because it will appeal to boys and young teenagers with its noisy mix of unattainable leggy women, fast cars, basic humour and racial stereotyping; the target audience for this is shown even in the cut which removes a use of the MF word so that it can get to a younger audience. For me though I found it lacking any sort of imagination, spark or wit and instead just took the easy line of cliché, stereotype and noise. It will appeal to some, but not to me, and it was an effort to get to the end.
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