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Cool Stuff: The Hire

8 Short Films of action-fueled BAMF-ery. So basically, a decade ago, BMW hired some of Hollywood's top directors and actors to make a series of short films as part of a ground-breaking online advertising campaign.  With big name directors such as Ang Lee, Guy Ritchie, Iñárritu and Wong Kar-wai, the films differ vastly in style, but keep a common thread, Clive Owen playing the Driver hired to transport people in a--you'll never guess--gorgeous BMW that will inevitably be chock-full of bullet holes by the end of the short.  In addition to the stellar cinematography and adrenaline-fueled stunt-work in most of the shorts, a long list of A-list Hollywood actors, billed and unbilled, star in each installment.

The Hire was also part of an advertising experiment in interactive entertainment.  Secret clues hidden in the Hire lead to a subplot, which if solved, leads to a party in Vegas and being entered to win a BMW Z4 Roadster. Apparently, it was quite elaborate and hush-hush back in the days, and nobody knew where the clues were heading (according to the above article, it was so convincingly real, the FBI actually investigated it four times).

Anyway, here's some of my personal faves out of the eight:

Most Poignant--"Powder Keg" is
directed by Iñárritu (Babel, 21 Grams) and is one of the more subdued ones. Stellan Skarsgård stars as a wounded, disillusioned war photographer in a war-torn South American country in need of evac.  The UN sends none other than the Driver.  The cuing of Carlos Varela's Una Palabra is just so haunting here, and the photographer's words about how his mother taught him how to see is just so heartbreaking in the context of the end.  Stunning storytelling in eight minutes flat, just wow.

Best Style: Film Noir--"The Follow," directed by Wong Kar-wai, stars Forest Whitaker, Mickey Rourke and Adriana Lima, has the Driver hired by a paranoid actor's manager to tail the star's wife.  It has pitch-perfect narration by the Driver with a tragic reveal at the end--"The waiting is the hard part, your mind wanders, wondering what it would be like watching your own life from far away." Irresistible lines.

Best Action-Suspense Storyline--"Ticker" is directed by Joe Carnahan and stars Don Cheadle and F. Murray Abraham. The Driver transports an injured man carrying a mysterious briefcase.  The thrill ride takes a turn for the 007 when the briefcase is punctured by a bullet and triggers a countdown on the briefcase display.  In addition to the well-spliced action-flashback suspense, it has one of the cooler scenes where some fancy driving takes down a helicopter. "What is the life of one man worth?"  Watch and find out I guess... 

If you liked, the rest of series is all up on YouTube too.  Series One's "Ambush" and "Chosen" are more action-focused, (although Ang Lee's "Chosen" has an awesome Asian-fusion soundtrack and not a bad storyline), while Guy Ritchie's (Sherlock, RocknRolla) "Star" is all about style (also stars Madonna). In Series 2, John Woo's "Hostage" is action with a ransom-kidnapping plot, while Tony Scott's "Beat the Devil" is a glitzy stylistic exercise of drag racing down the Vegas strip (also involves some storyline with Gary Oldman as the Devil in drag, James Brown in sequins doing the splits and selling your soul somewhere along the way).  Definitely worth a watch especially since they're so short!


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 12th, 2011 11:41 pm (UTC)
Huh, okay. Those were all surprisingly good. The Follow has Wong Kar-wai stamped all over it, it's uncanny. I mean, if someone manages to deliver the exact same feel in 7 minutes as in 3 hours, that must really be some style *g*

Also, the last scene of Ticker? Ftw.
Nov. 14th, 2011 06:39 am (UTC)
I know right! At first, I was really skeptical... I mean short films glorifying a piece of machinery... I think I'll pass right?

haha, yeah, the editing really made ticker... glad you enjoyed!
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )