When BMW first dove into the short film scene in 2001, dial-up internet connections were still common and YouTube was four years from creation.
Still, that initial mini-series, dubbed The Hire, was released primarily online and netted 100,000,000 views over four years at a time when such numbers seemed impossible. Featuring the star power of Mickey Rourke, Gary Oldman, and Marilyn Manson among others and under the direction of the likes of Ang Lee and John Woo – the most famous clip was directed by Guy Ritchie and starred his then-wife Madonna – the eight short films caused viewers to see the BMW brand in an entirely different light and were responsible for launching Clive Owen into stardom.
Given the ease of online video streaming and sharing these days, a nostalgic reprise of the format stands to do very well if the latest product stands out as much as the originals. Truly, The Escape does.
Directed by Neill Blomkamp, who was also responsible for District 9, The Escape is set to launch this Sunday night, October 23rd, at 6:00 PM Eastern exclusively at BMWFilms.com. Owen returns to the role of The Driver by playing high-stakes chauffeur to Lily (Dakota Fanning), the product of a human cloning experiment.
The film begins with The Driver at the wheel of a next-generation BMW 540i sandwiched between a pair of heavily armoured vehicles. Together, they are to deliver Lily to “the client” while staving off a military siege.
The plot twists and turns from there, and in true science-fiction short-story style the viewer is left with more questions than answers at the conclusion of the film’s action-packed 13 minutes.
But it’s a thrill ride the entire way, and the car is naturally the star of the show. By the end, the sedate Mineral Grey-looking 540i is bullet-riddled, smashed, pounded into full throttle, and even gets into a tug-of-war with a helicopter – and, of course, is left still running flawlessly. The BMW 5 Series sedan happens to tie in with an impending product launch announced last week that will make its public debut at January’s North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
Eagle-eyed Canadians will quickly recognize the set locations. Though the project was initiated by BMW USA, it was filmed entirely in and around the Toronto area over one-and-a-half months this past summer. Watch for the aerial shots of the city if you’ve ever been curious about what Toronto’s skyline would look like without the CN Tower.
Sadly, BMW representatives are quick to point out that this is not a full-scale rebirth of the BMW Films project. The short was planned solely as a standalone homage to the 15th anniversary of the original series.
But if you take it for what it is – an innovative, action-packed, intriguing, quick thrill – there’s plenty here worth a few minutes of your time.
Trailers and a making-of film are available at the website now, and the full feature of The Escape goes live at 6:00 PM Eastern on Sunday, October 23rd, at BMWFilms.com.