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Speeding-taxi movies cross the line, French critics charge

January 31, 2003|From Reuters

PARIS — The latest installment in a series of hugely popular French films about a speed-crazy taxi driver opened this week to criticism from road safety groups who said the "Taxi" movies glorified reckless driving.

Road safety awareness has become a hot topic in France since September, when the government declared war on the drivers who have made its roads the deadliest in Europe, with some 8,000 victims a year -- more than twice the number in Britain.

But that is unlikely to stop audiences flocking to see "Taxi 3," starring Sami Naceri as a cab driver who helps a bungling police inspector fight crime, thanks to a Peugeot 406 customized to speed like a bullet.

With its formula of high-speed chases and spectacular crashes, "Taxi 2" drew more than 10 million viewers in France in 2000, making it the top box office hit of the year, ahead of Hollywood blockbusters such as "Gladiator."

Added attractions this time around include criminals on in-line skates.

The League Against Road Violence said the films were a dangerous influence on young drivers and criticized Peugeot for endorsing the series.

"These films are flooded with testosterone without any counter-argument, and the counter-argument is that road crime is the primary cause of death among young people in France," spokeswoman Genevieve Jurgensen said.

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