Starring: Samy Naceri, Frederic Diefenthal, Marion Cotillard
Director: Gerard Pires
This Luc Besson scripted-and-produced action comedy skimps slightly on the horsepower, but it’s pimped out with some attractively sunny visuals and funny performances. The cartoony plot sees too cool for driving school taxi-driver Daniel (Samy Naceri) teaming up with uptight moron with a cop badge Emilien (Frederic Diefenthal) to take on a super efficient gang of German bankrobbers who have been running circles around the totally hopeless Marseilles police. Daniels pits his wits and his souped up Peugeot against the gang’s guns and Merc and along the way finds a buddy in the grateful Emilien, who never even passed his driving test.
There’s more talk than action, with stunts and chases playing second fiddle to jokey scenes of male bonding and long comical riffs from the two leads, but director Gerard Pires still marshals some impressive comical carnage, and the combination of urban hipness, broad-brush humour and Mediterranean ease is very winning – especially when you take into account the refreshing absence of Bad Boys- or The Fast and the Furious-style machismo. Visually, the film’s bright, bouncing hip hop video aesthetic has hardly dated at all, and there’s the added bonus of a young, lissome Marion Cotillard rolling in and out of bed in various states of undress as Daniel’s long-suffering girlfriend, Lilly. On top of that, the whole France versus Germany thing, and the sense of wounded national pride at stake, gives the film the feel of an entertainingly rowdy football match.
The HD transfer is excellent. The night scenes come up richly, as does the vivid canary yellow colour scheme. There’s no grain, skin tones and textures have great fidelity, and you can see the weave on Daniel’s Olympique de Marseille shirt. The disc also has a contemporary 15-minute featurette with some nice behind-the-scenes footage and a chat with Akhenaton, who supplied the film’s infectious beats.