What’s the best way to advertise a car? A Billboard, a magazine advertisement, maybe you’re new-fashion and believe giving it to celebrities and putting it in a videogame is a good way. If you’re BMW, you don’t do any of these things. You hire some award winning Hollywood director and actors, and you make a short film.
Earlier this year BMW decided to revive BMW films, the in house project that basically serves as an advertisement for a new BMW sedan. This go round, they decided to make a film that centered around the all new 540i.
While this is a short film, don’t think of it as your traditional short film from the kid with USC film-school aspirations. This film looks big time, and you can tell that BMW didn’t want to cut corners with production value. First off, behind the lens is Neil Blomkamp directing (director of District 9, Chappie, and Elysium). If you’ve never seen a Blomkamp film, just know that some of his signature elements from his big screen projects are here. He’s a futurist, always making smart sci-fi films about the dangers of the future and elements of that are present in the plot (more on that later). His certain color profile is also present here. There are explosions, gun fights, Fast and the Furious worthy stunts, and great car chases. The film is seriously enjoyable and well-paced.
The plot of the short is admittedly kind of weak and doesn’t come together until the end and tells the story of a company called Molecular Genetics that is illegally cloning people. The driver, in the BMW, has been contracted to transport one of the clones and paid a hefty sum of money to do so. There’s a bit of a moral issue here as well as the issue of "how human are clones". The plot isn’t the greatest and at times is all over the place, but that isn’t what the short is about. The G30 (as the internal chassis codename calls it) is front and center as the lone BMW and focal point of the film.
After the Driver picks up the girl, we are treated to an excellent car chase scene. Blomkamp does a good job with the car chase scenes because the focus is on the car. Unless there's dialogue inside the car, he doesn’t focus on the driver's face or any other non-car related things. We are treated to plenty of shots of the new 540i in action. The car weaves in and out of traffic, breaks traction, and performs evasive maneuvers. Another great enthusiast focused aspect of filming is the diegetic sound. Almost all of the sounds during these car chases are engine noises. Even when there are gunshots (yes we get a firefight and a car chase) the engine noises have been mixed to be louder. The film definitely has some Fast and the Furious cues going on. For a brief second, they even have you think the bimmer will execute the “driving under a semi move” from the first film. There’s also one of those semi-ridiculous Furious 7 stunts; The 540i is able to, via connected tether in reverse, PULL A HELICOPTER. It’s definitely a scene you have to see for yourself.
All in all the film is an enjoyable way to spend 10 minutes of your day. Is the plot great? Meh; for a short film it’s a bit too big and leaves some holes, but it is well shot, and it has some great moments with the car. The acting is decent as well. Even though we haven’t truly seen the new 540i, this was a great way to see it in action and as a dynamic sports sedan. Go check it out and see for yourself how you perceive the car. It’s an interesting advertisement method. Your first true image of the car is in a movie, and as the hero’s vehicle of choice. It creates a strong emotional connection. The film was enjoyable enough it left you both wanting a sequel, and wanting to find more details about this one, either way, you’re left thinking about the car.
Maybe BMW is onto something. Hopefully, this is the beginning of something new for BMW. There's a lot of potential here.