He's not quite a spy, but Clive Owen's enigmatic character The Driver from the series of BMW Films in the early 2000s is certainly spy-adjacent. And he (somewhat circuitously) inspired an even more spy-adjacent character, The Transporter. The Driver first appeared in a series of eight short films produced in 2001 and 2002 known collectively as The Hire. It was an innovative idea. BMW approached top international directors including John Frankenheimer, Wong Kar-wai, Guy Ritchie and Alejandro González Iñárritu, to helm short films (or long, plot-driven commercials) featuring Owen driving various BMWs in various action/adventure scenarios ranging from comedic (Ritchie's) to downright surreal (Tony Scott's, which featured Gary Oldman as the devil). The shorts were collected on a now out of print DVD, and beloved by many fans. In 2005, Dark Horse published a less successful comic book version, which also tried the strategy of recruiting industry superstars like Kurt Busiek and Matt Wagner (and, oddly, Bruce Campbell, who is a superstar... but not as a comic book writer!), but kind of missed the mark by using concept cars instead of actual BMWs on the market. That was the last we had heard from The Driver. Until now.
Now, fifteen years later, The Hollywood Reporter reports that Owen is back in the role! Neill Blomkamp (District 9, Elysium) directs a new 11-minute short entitled The Escape, and intended, according to the trade, as "an homage to the original series." Does that mean it's not an actual sequel? Unclear, for the moment, but it certainly looks like a new entry in the franchise we're familiar with. Also unclear is whether this is simply a one-off, or if this is the first of a new series of Hire shorts. I'm certainly hoping for the latter! In addition to Owen, original series creative director Bruce Bildsten, executive producer Brian DiLorenzo, producer Steve Golin, and creative consultant David Carter all return. The latter co-wrote the new short with Blomkamp. Jon Bernthal (The Accountant), Vera Farmiga (The Conjuring) and Dakota Fanning (Man on Fire) co-star.
The Escape will premiere October 23 on the BMW Films official website.
Here's a teaser:
...and a short behind-the-scenes video:
Oct 10, 2016
Clive Owen Returns as The Driver for BMW Films
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I ordered the original DVD way back and, by the time I received it in the mail, I had forgotten that I'd ordered it. It was brilliant. Looking forward to his new instalment (thanks for the heads-up, sir!) and I, for one, would happily pay to see Clive Owen in a feature-length story directed by Blomkamp.
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