vt The Hire: Star
US / 9 minutes / color / Anonymous Content, BMW Films Dir: Guy Ritchie Pr: Aristides McGarry, Robyn Boardman Scr: Guy Ritchie, Joe Sweet Concept: Fallon Cine: Chris Soos Cast: Clive Owen, Michael Beattie, Toru Tanaka Jr., Madonna, DTeflon, Troy Aguayo, Christie McNew, Woon Young Park.
This was #4 in a series of short movies made by Anonymous Content for BMW, designed for internet consumption. All the movies starred Clive Owen as Driver, a man who rented himself and his BMW out to various clients. The movies had distinguished casts and equally distinguished directors:
- Ambush (2001) dir John Frankenheimer
- Chosen (2001) dir Ang Lee
- The Follow (2001) dir Wong Kar-wai
- Star (2001) dir Guy Ritchie
- Powder Keg (2001) dir Alejandro González Iñárritu
- Hostage (2002) dir John Woo
- Ticker (2002) dir Joe Carnahan
- Beat the Devil (2002) dir Tony Scott
A pendant to the series came a decade and a half later with The Escape (2016) dir Neill Blomkamp, but an anticipated new series seems not to have materialized. (If you try to go to the BMW Films site you get automatically taken to the main BMW site, from which, as far as I could ascertain during an increasingly frustrated half-hour, all mention of the movie series has been expunged.)
The series apparently proved enormously successful, its release earning audience figures in the many millions and coinciding with greatly increased sales of BMW cars. (There may of course have been other factors involved.) The movies were, however, expensive to produce, which is presumably why the series was cancelled.
But back to The Star, which I chose to cover here because of its director, Guy Ritchie, and of course its star, Clive Owen. Co-stars include Ritchie’s then wife, Madonna.
The plot’s simplicity itself. The Star (Madonna, uncredited) is in an unnamed city for a major gig. She has masses of talent, so Driver tells us, but her principal characteristic is that she’s an absolute . . . bitch. (The term he almost uses, before a judicious editorial cut, is somewhat stronger.) We see her display this characteristic in spades as, refusing the limo her manager Glen (Beattie) has laid on to get her to the venue, she appropriates a car that’s been idling nearby and demands that its chauffeur (Owen) take her to her destination.
Pronto. And get rid of the carful of bodyguards that’s been despatched to follow them and keep an eye on her.
And so Driver obeys. The car’s a BMW, of course, and he puts it through its paces (strangely, the cops fail to stop his high-speed escapade) before dumping the Star unceremoniously at the theater.
To be honest, I didn’t enjoy this all that much: a disappointment. Owen’s fine, although he’s played this sort of role countless times before, and Beattie delivers far more than he needed to, but Madonna’s performance is somewhat Amateur Hour. Added to which, I’m not too keen on “comedies” whose laddish basis is the humiliation of a woman, no matter how much she’s been heading for a fall. Fingers crossed I enjoy others in the series more.