With an arguably weak script on which to base its antics, Taxi is constantly struggling to create comic moments but the attempts repeatedly fizzle out. The story follows perpetual screw-up Washburn (Jimmy Fallon), a New York City cop with a reputation for being vehicularly challenged. He can’t drive to save his life and he’s thisclose to being canned from the job by his girlfriend/superior, Lieutenant Marta Robbins (Jennifer Esposito), who suspends his driver’s license instead. But when a car-free Washburn stumbles upon a bank robbery, he hops in a taxi driven by Belle (Queen Latifah)—a tough-talking, car-loving former bicycle messenger who’s starting her new career as a cabbie. Suddenly, the two of them are partners in crimefighting, as mishap after mishap lands them in deeper trouble as they pursue the quartet of comely thieves (led by supermodel Gisele Bündchen).
Suffice it to say that plausibility doesn’t seem to be a consideration for much of the film. Things happen that defy logic or reason or even sensible storytelling. Belle’s ongoing misunderstandings with her boyfriend (Henry Simmons)? The presence of a completely needless FBI agent (Christian Kane)? The introduced-and-then-never-really-addressed relationship between Washburn and Robbins? All there for no discernable reason, aside from being weak plot devices. All adding clutter. All unnecessary in the big picture.
Jimmy Fallon isn’t remotely believable as a cop… even a really bad one. Who would hire this guy and, as Belle says in the film, who the hell would ever issue a license to someone as clueless as he is?? Queen Latifah’s Belle is a fun enough character and she has some good one-liners, but her participation in the proceedings seem driven by writers not the situation. Come to think of it, the film might have worked better if they actors had switched roles—I’d totally buy Latifah as an officer and Fallon as a cabbie. And much of the “Just one more screw-up, Washburn, and you’re outta here!” schtick from the police station seems like it was lifted right out of countless cop films gone by.
Sorely underused (underexploited?) are the women playing the bank robbers. Bündchen and her leggy crew (Ann Cristina De Oliveira, Ingrid Vandebosch and Magali Amadei) make for beautiful villains, but they barely get any screen time. Why not?! If you’re going to have a band of steely, sharpshooting supermodels who drive like the boys in The Fast and the Furious, why waste them? Even if it turned out that they couldn’t act, the filmmakers could have easily given their obvious eye-candy casting coups a few more dialogue-free scenes to break up the otherwise scattered action in a film that I really wanted to like more than I did.