It's been 15 years since BMW Films and Fallon released "The Hire," a series of eight original short films that helped define branded entertainment, with help from a menagerie of A-list stars and directors.
As an homage to that first run, the brand has now dropped "The Escape." In it, Clive Owen reprises his role as the mysterious Driver. This time he's joined by Dakota Fanning, Jon Bernthal and Vera Farmiga. Director Neill Blomkamp, of District 9 and Elysium, pulls the strings behind the curtain.
Time has passed in this mysterious universe: Owen's older and world-weary, a more experienced Bond to the younger variety. The narrative clocks in at under 11 minutes but keeps the action moving briskly, with a plot that benefits from references that don't require much explanation.
Cloning is a thing now, as we quickly learn from a brief introduction to a troubled molecular genetics firm. Fanning appears as Five, or Lilly, a twitchy specimen with a penchant for defining words like "abomination" ("from the Latin word abominari, thing that causes hatred or disgust"). If you loved Stranger Things, she'll bring Eleven to mind, though sadly there's little time to develop the character much.
Owen's mission: Deliver her to her buyer, accompanied by a mouthy Bernthal, flanked by humvees and helicopters, and under hot pursuit from the FBI. It's enough to give Michael Bay penis envy!
As expected, things in "The Escape" go off the rails pretty fast. Owen goes rogue, dodging his Humvee entourage and throwing Bernthal out of the car. His true client, played by Farmiga, appears at the end.
The film's got a Fast and the Furious thing going on, except the sound of the engine never goes above a smooth, muted purr. In terms of product promotion, this amounts to little more than a humblebrag ... until the moment the 5 Series sedan literally drags a helicopter out of the sky, its fans chopping at an overpass as it crinkles on the ground like a dead spider.
"When we commissioned 'The Escape,' our only direction was that the story remain of utmost importance—and that it should live up to the standards set by 'The Hire,'" says svp Hildegard Wortmann of Brand BMW. "Neill, Clive and the entire cast did a tremendous job, and we are confident that 'The Escape' not only meets that standard, but sets a new one."
Production company Anonymous Content, which created the original series, executive produced this latest installment, working alongside Geisel Productions. But the star here is Owen, whose strained silence and meaningful glances fill out years of backstory.
As Owen says in the film, "I might be a little rusty right now, but I've been doing this for a long time. I'm very good at it." We're inclined to agree. "The Escape" might not score the 100 million views that "The Hire" enjoyed before YouTube, when the internet was quieter. But it's a pleasure to see our mysterious mercenary back in the driver's seat.
Title: The Escape
Agency: Geisel Productions
Creative Directors: Bruce Bildsten and David Carter
Writers: Bruce Bildsten and David Carter
Executive Producer: Brian DiLorenzo
Senior Integrated Producer: Adam Davis
Producer: Patrick O'Brien
BA: TEAM Companies
Production Company: Anonymous Content
Director: Neill Blomkamp
Managing Director / Executive Producer: Eric Stern
Executive Producer: SueEllen Clair
Head of Production: Kerry Haynie
Producer: Aristides McGarry
Action Supervisor/2nd Unit Director: Guy Norris
DP: Manoel Ferreira
Production Designer: Gerald Sullivan
Production Manager: Sara D'Alessio
Production Coordinator: Jennifer Duffy
Editorial: Rock Paper Scissors
Supervising Editor: Angus Wall
Editor: Austyn Daines
Editor: Julian Clarke
Editor: Devin Maurer
Cutting Assistant: Martin Hsieh
Executive Producer: Helena Lee/ Jennifer Sofio Hall
Producer: Dina Ciccotello
Music: Kristopher Pooley
Finishing / VFX: Embassy and A52
Flame Artist: Dan Ellis
Executive Producer: Patrick Nugent
Head of Production: Kim Christensen
Post Producer: Victoria Burkhart
Post Producer: Heather Johann
VFX Supervisor: Chris Harvey
Color : CO3
Colorist: Stefan Sonnenfeld
Executive Producer: Rhubie Jovanov
Audio Mix : Formosa Group Mix
Audio Engineer: Mark Mangini
Sound Design: David Whitehead
Behind The Scenes: Drive Thru Editorial
Behind The Scenes Director / DP: Patrick Pierson
Producer: Beth Wilson
Titles, Poster Design & Art Direction: Design by MING
Chief Design Officer: Brad Blondes
Lead Designer: David Balsamello
Designer: Olga Vladova
Junior Designer: Sarah Maslechko
Website Development: Your Majesty
Technical Director - Tore Holmberg
Lead Developer - Sebastian Carlsson
Design Director - Alexander Strand Kristensen
Senior Producer - Jason Speenburgh
Engagement Director - Ashley Smith
Social Media: 247 Laundry Service
Account Manager - Matthew Carlson
Community Manager - Samantha Pillsbury
Narrative Director - Jocelyn Chang
Post-Production Supervisor - Chris Lewis
Editor - Mike Mazzotta