It would be a bit of an understatement to say that BMW fans are excited about the return of BMW Films. The previous series of films from the Bavarians was called “The Hire” and it was comprised of several different short films, all of which featured Clive Owen as the nameless driver for hire. Using a different BMW in each film, Owen’s now-famous character escaped a variety of different chaotic and action-packed situations.
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Well, BMW Films is back with a new, one-off 13-minute short film called “The Escape”. It, again, features Owen as the lead, but also packs a start studded cast, including Dakota Fanning (War of the Worlds) and Vera Farmiga (The Departed). We were lucky enough to be given an early viewing of The Escape before its worldwide debut this Sunday.
The car Owen drives in this new short is the brand-new G30 BMW 540i M Sport. It’s an interesting choice of car for BMW, as it could have gone with the range-topping M550i with the 4.4 liter twin-turbo V8. Instead, it went for the car that would actually serve better as a getaway car, as the lighter-nosed 540i, and its brilliant B58 turbocharged I6 engine, would handle better. It also looks damn good doing it and, according to our pal Matt Mullins, it handles really damn well.
Without giving away too much, the story centers around a young girl simply named “Five”, played by Fanning, who is the subject of seemingly illegal experiments. With the FBI cracking down on the company responsible for such experiments, Owen’s nameless transporter was hired to get Five out of there. Then, the action ensues.
Cars smash, bullets fly and helicopters burn. It’s a proper action movie with sequences that would embarrass some big-budget feature-length films. The driving also seems genuine and not too forced or fake, as Owen gets stuck behind a bit of traffic and encuonters a few obstacles along the way. It’s not the typical car chase where the other cars on the road are spaced perfectly apart for the hero to effortlessly swerve in and out. Stunt Coordinator Guy Norris, who previously worked on the stunts for the incredibly impressive Mad Max: Fury Road, did an excellent job of making the action fast-paced, adrenaline-filled and also realistic. It’s a genuinely fun film to watch.
Plus, the shear icy-coolness of Clive Owen’s driver is fantastic. It’s been over a decade since the last BMW Films short featuring Owen, but he’s still got it. Fanning is also great as the strange and damaged young child experiment, proving once again why she rose to stardom as just a young girl.
Neill Blomkamp (District 9 and Elysium) directed The Escape and it’s more good stuff from the critically acclaimed director. The action is fast-paced and tight and the performances are great for a short film put on by a car company. In fact, while watching it, you almost forget that this is a film produced by BMW, as it has the feel of a major, big-budget action movie. What’s also impressive is how they’re able to pack so much story into just 13-minutes and actually provide decent character development and emotion. Owen’s character, for instance, is only on screen for a handful of minutes an barely has any lines. Yet we can see his emotions and motives change throughout the short time he’s on camera. Jon Bernthal (The Punisher) also makes a convincing and memorable baddie.
Overall, excellent work by Blomkamp, Owen, Fanning and all others involved. Genuinely good stuff and a faithful return for the BMW Films series.