The Escape Marks BMW’s Return to High-Octane Short Films

Short of the Day

Clive Owen gets behind the wheel again for Neil Blomkamp.

In 2001 and 2002, automakers BMW changed branded content forever by producing a series of eight short, ten-minute films based around their line of luxury vehicles. Collectively this series was known as The Hire and it starred Clive Owen (Children of Men) as a kind of pre-Transporter transporter who in each installment was on the job for someone new, but always in a beautiful, black, top-performing BMW.

What really made this project notable was the fact that BMW hired eight incredible directors to helm the shorts, which were broken down into “seasons:” season one featured films by John Frankenheimer (The Manchurian Candidate, Ronin), Ang Lee (Life of Pi, Brokeback Mountain), Wong Kar-wai (In the Mood for Love, 2046), Guy Ritchie (Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Sherlock Holmes), and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (Birdman, The Revenant), while season two was directed by John Woo (The Killer, Face/Off), Joe Carnahan (Smokin’ Aces, Narc) and Tony Scott (Top Gun, Days of Thunder).

The films did quite well on their own – Wong Kar-wai’s premiered at Cannes to rave reviews – and even got a DVD release as a collection. But then, just as suddenly as the project had zoomed onto our radar, it drove off into the sunset, presumably done and gone.

But not so.

Because now, 15 years later, BMW has announced season three via the 13-minute short The Escape, in which Owen reprises his role as The Driver alongside Dakota Fanning (War of the Worlds), Jon Bernthal (The Walking Dead, Punisher), and Vera Farmiga (The Departed, Bate’s Motel). The Escape is directed by Neil Blomkamp (District 9, Elysium, Chappie) and recaptures all the zest, zeal, and high-octane thrills of the original films. Whether this is to be the start of a new series or just a nostalgic one-off is yet to be determined, but I’m sure there’s a crop of new action directors – I’m thinking Gareth Evans, Lexi Alexander, Justin Lin, Jose Padhila, Kim Jee-Woon, any and everyone under the production umbrella of Luc Besson – chomping at the bit to get a little German funding under their hood, not to mention the chance to play with some top-of-the-line BMWs.

Do your part at securing future installments by watching and sharing the film below.

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