Beat The Devil (From “The Hire” Series)

Director Tony Scott is never one to stifle showmanship and this 2002 short from the BMW advertising ploy (a series of heavyweight-directed short films which the car company commissioned), “The Hire,” is no exception. The other 7 shorts in the series were directed by:

John Frankenheimer
Ang Lee
Wong Kar-wai
Guy Ritchie
Alejandro González Iñárritu
John Woo
Joe Carnahan

For now, I’m just reviewing the Tony Scott entry. This site is all about movie review randomness, you know.

The always fantastic Clive Owen plays the Driver in all 8 films; the one constant throughout (other than his BMWs). Scott’s offering is not anything unusual for him, including flashbacks to True Romance’s Elvis-via-Val Kilmer scenes, only this time around it’s James Brown. Brown plays himself and is pretty damn good at it. He’s looking to make a deal with the devil (Gary Oldman, of course) in order to reverse the aging process and become youthful again (if only to be able to do his “splits,” as he puts it – and Scott has it underlined for us in the Scott-esque music video-random subtitling that he does so well). Other throwbacks are the more obvious ones, such as The Hunger, and the fast-to-slow dolly shots seem reminiscent of Bay’s Bad Boys. Mostly though, the whole thing feels precursor to Domino which looked and felt (to many epileptics, too!) like a bad trip.

Scott is a visual virtuoso, there is no doubt; but at the same time, it almost feels as if he can’t break out of the style that he does so well. The style though, sometimes doesn’t always work for the film. He knew how to tone it way down for one that I consider a masterpiece of his oeuvre, Man On Fire, but as with most good commercials, Beat The Devil is really only a must-see because of the cool factor that Scott brings. The Marilyn Manson cameo and coda is very cute, the music is awesome as always, the visuals are striking and jarring, the choice of character actors he uses is always spot on and fascinating (here we have Brown, Oldman, and Danny Trejo!). Check it out below, but warning: it’s gonna be hard not to like.

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