After a typically wild and funny car chase from French master Luc Besson, the protagonist heads underground into the Paris Metro, never to emerge for the duration of the picture. And, after being chased by thugs, he then heads behind-the-scenes, as it were, to the non-public areas of the vast system where he meets the denizens of a complex subterranean culture. This is the premise of Besson's wonderful early film, Subway.
Mr. Besson sets the stage in this one for his action series, Taxi, complete with loveable characters, villains, fast edits, fast action, great actors working in ensemble. First among these is Christophe Lambert, fresh off his success as Tarzan so he is suitably athletic, young and achingly handsome in a blonde punk haircut. His character, Fred, has fallen for Isabelle Adjani as Elena -- and who can blame him? Her slow entrance, down a staircase in the subway in a glorious cocktail dress of gray silk, is full of portent for the fun to come. Elena had invited Fred to her house for a party, where he promptly blew the safe (because he 'can't stand safes'), stole papers, and he is now pursued by her not-so-nice husband and his henchmen.
Other inhabitants of the underground world include Jean-Hugues Anglade as a thief on skates, Jean Reno as a drummer in the band Fred wants to manage, and a host of recognizeable French character actors obviously delighted to work with Besson.
Mr. Lambert's French is perfect, though born American, because he was raised in Switzerland by his diplomat father. He was a French star before the Highlander film made him an American megastar. It is wonderful to see such actors in their youth, looking so beautiful, and having such a good time. This is a hallmark of a Besson film and the fun is infectious.