Sometimes brands do wonderful things with marketing budgets. BMW Films’ latest short film The Escape is just such a wonder.
Starring alongside Clive Owen and Dakota Fanning is Jon Bernthal of The Walking Dead fame and Vera Farmiga, known for her roles in Up in the Air and Bates Motel. For some however, the true silver screen star will be the 2017 BMW 5 Series sedan that stars alongside them.
The dark silver-grey sedan plays its role well as the hero next to a slew of other vehicles, which (spoiler alert), go boom. There’s a lot that rolls, explodes, and makes noise, Including Dodge Charger police vehicles and baddies in private military spec Hummers. Yes, even a helicopter, which (again, spoiler), goes boom after being towed to its demise by the 5 Series.
So why are we talking about a film featuring a BMW?
For those who don’t know, BMW Films, launched a series of eight short films titled The Hire in 2001. Each film had a unique story and starred a veritable who’s who of Hollywood elite and were directed by the likes of John Frankenheimer, Ang Lee, Wong Kar Wai, Guy Ritchie, Alejandro González Iñárritu, John Woo, Joe Carnahan and Tony Scott.
Among those to have starred in the films were Madonna, Gary Oldman, Don Cheadle, Mickey Rourke, F. Murray Abraham, James Brown and Clive Owen. Owen credits The Hire with kicking his career into high gear (pun intended). The films, released online only (before the age of YouTube or even high-speed internet), were viewed over 100-million times and even today have a cult-like fan base.
Owen returns to this latest feature from BMW Films with director Neill Blomkamp at the helm. Having directed District 9, Elysium, and Chappie, Blomkamp is known for his visceral documentary style filmmaking. The Escape, a story penned by him, is shot in a way that deeply engages the viewer through up-close and personal handheld camera work that draws you into the film uncovering truths as they happen on screen.
The film itself has more than a few Canadian connections, from Blomkamp who lives in Vancouver, to it being shot entirely in Toronto. Speaking with media, Marc Belcourt, Director of Corporate Communications for BMW Canada admits that even he didn’t know it was being filmed here. The whole production was kept very hush, hush and only known to a few at Brand BMW.
It’s speculated to have been shot in the east end of the city, and the skyline seen in some shots is indeed Toronto (with the CN Tower digitally removed so as not to immediately give away location).
There’s some very fancy driving by Owen’s character, while Fanning’s very mysterious and intriguing character leaves you wishing this was a feature length film and not 13 minutes long. Bernthal makes for a fantastic bearded bad guy who puts on a gripping show.
The Escape is now online at bmwfilms.com.