This Past Sunday saw the release of The Escape, a new short film starring Clive Owen and directed by Neil Blomkamp for BMW Films.
It’s been 15 years since BMW Films released The Hire, a series of shorts from 2001 and 2002, also starring Owen and featuring a plethora of known celebs. Each short was directed by one of Hollywood’s biggest names. The series was a hit, receiving over 100 million views online. With praise from both critics and fans alike, it’s a bit scary to return to this universe and expect the same results. After watching the film, it’s safe to say that The Escape will most likely live up to the expectations of fans of The Hire while dazzling a brand new audience as well.
The Escape is an action piece with a bit of “implied sci-fi”. Owen reprises his role as The Driver, a man you hire when you need a guy with a fast car to get you and your vitals to your destination in one piece. This time around, he’s hired by Holt (played by Jon Berthal), a mercenary working for a shadowy biogentics company involved in human cloning. The company is under siege by the FBI and Holt needs to sneak the last surviving clone, 5 (also known as Lily, played by Dakota Fanning), to an unidentified buyer. He’s hired The Driver as well as a cadre of fellow mercs to get the job done. The problem is that Holt’s plans conflict with The Driver’s, who takes matters into his own hands and drives his car like nobody else.
This was my first time seeing a story involving The Driver. I missed out on The Hire series when it first came out as I was still using an Etch A Sketch for all of my computing needs back in the early 2000s. However, knowing the history and legacy of the character, I knew that this short was going to pull out all the stops. It certainly delivered on my assumption. Using the action beats sparingly over the 14 minute running time and still finding time to cram in some good character moments, the pacing of the story is top notch. It’s great to see Blomkamp firing on all cylinders once again. After Elysium and Chappie, I was worried we might have seen the last of this director telling a compelling story that’s not lost in it’s own world building. But seeing as he only had a dozen minutes to tell his tale and the world wasn’t his making, it’s easy to see he would keep his focus. Regardless, the forward momentum of the film’s plot kept me on the edge of my seat. It was an exciting piece of fiction that almost made me forget it was really a long form commercial for the 5 Series BMW.
The performances in The Escape were very satisfying as each actor got to play to their strengths. Clive Owen is always more interesting when you give him very little to say. He’s proved in films such as Croupier and Inside Man that when you give fewer lines, he can chew up the scenery with just a glance. Here is no different. Owen gives off the aura of control and you know from the minute you first see him that he’s got this one in the bag. Dakota Fanning is really enjoyable as the frantic clone 5, trying to keep herself together in a world that’s brand new to her. Her random info regarding statistics and definitions doesn’t seem out of place with her performance and you can’t help but root for her. Jon Berthal once again pulls off being a prick that’s fun to watch. He’s got a delivery that makes him a likeable bad guy that you still want to see get his. His short interaction with Owen makes you wish these two were adversaries in an upcoming feature as they have great chemistry. There’s never a moment to catch your breath, but all three manage to give their characters enough time to evolve and adapt to the situation, making the viewer want to see more of each of them.
If you’re a fan of The Hire series, you will have most likely already checked out The Escape. If you never saw The Hire, no worries. This short is completely accessible for new viewers and worth watching. It’s ten times more compelling than any feature length action film released in the past couple of years. Give it watch right now at BMWFilms.com.
If you’re gonna geek out, GEEK HARD!