Ad of the Day: Clive Owen Is Back in the Driver’s Seat as BMW Films Returns After 15 Years

Can you keep up with The Escape?

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. 

CREDITS

Client: BMW

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