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  • Powder Keg has been promoted heavily on cable. The trailer for the very short film is excellent. The irony of the format of the very short film is that the trailer runs for about 1/10 the time of the whole film!

    More is left out of the film than is in it. We are shown the short tale of a photojournalist who escapes from a horrific massacre; we aren't shown how he does it. We don't know what war this is, it is a stand-in for all of those nameless skirmishes in Latin America.

    Clive Owen of the PBS Mystery series Second Sight stars as the 'Driver'. We don't know anything about him as well.

    It's really difficult to make an effective short film, but director Alejandro Inarritu does a very good job. Yes, we've seen the plot before (though not so truncated), but the cinematography is grainy, jerky, and alive. You get a sense of the menace and desperation of the people of this unnamed place in fast glances out the window of the, yes, BMW.

  • Boba_Fett113817 April 2005
    The fifth "The Hire" movie is an impressive little short. It's impressive because of the story, that is helped by its gritty atmosphere.

    The atmosphere is wonderful and typically Mexican style like. It really reminded me of "Man on Fire". It's gritty and sets the perfect mood for the story. The great cinematography is from 2 times Academy Award winner Robert Richardson and the music is from the talented composer Harry Gregson-Williams.

    The movie and its story know to impress and it has some wonderful dialog, altogether with a powerful ending is what makes this movie a bit of a must see.

  • This short film occurs in January 13, 2001, where a Times war photographer -Harvey Jacobs (Stellan Skarsgård)- is wounded while witnessing a massacre at Nuevo Colon by terrorists. In a desperate effort, the United Nations sends a vehicle to get him out, a BMW driven by Clive Owen.

    This film, in comparison to any other film of the Hire series is possibly the best. The mark of Alejandro González Iñárritu is without contest the deepest one I've seen to date. It can't be denied that every second of the films matters in one way or another, either it is the feel of the environment, characters or even the state of mind. But since I'm a fan of his work I think I might be a little biased.

    The real hero of the film is actually the photographer's mother (Lois Smith) who really made a spectacular performance. I've seen the film about five times and I am still touched by her performance. Great Film 9/10
  • theficus30 July 2001
    While all of the other 4 films in the "Hire" series are fine examples of short film-making, they were pretty much nothing more than Clive Owen's fancy driving of the BMW vehicles with a slight back-story thrown in.

    This film was from start to finish a stunning, and powerful story. Gripping, gritty cinematography with fine acting. This time the car was the back-story - not the focal point.

    A wonderful conclusion to the series, and a must view. It's free and available on right now, so what are you waiting for?
  • What makes this commercial really stick out from the others is the filming style, which seemed documentary-like. While I found this style a little annoying at first, I ended up actually enjoying it and liking the commercial for being different without being bad(like the one Ang Lee misdirected). The cinematography is very good, and gives us some great intense sequences. The acting is great, both by Clive Owen and Stellan Skarsgård. Owen must have gotten very much used to his character of The Driver by this point, so it's interesting to see him in a more emotional take on the character. Skarsgård is very good as the war photographer, and his final speech, though going very close to crossing over into being cliché, manages to work perfectly and arouse actual emotions in the viewer, rather than just being sappy, manipulative drivel(which this sort of thing almost always is). The action(the little there is) is great and the amount is just right. It's obvious that this was more about story and characters than action and thrills, and director Alejandro González Iñárritu pulls it off perfectly. It's rare to see something so short that manages to hold your interest without a lot of action and whilst managing to tell a story so beautifully and emotionally. While I prefer Ambush over this one, I think it's a great commercial. I recommend this to fans of the commercials and of this type of stories. 8/10
  • rbverhoef24 May 2003
    This short from The Hire-series looks totally different than the other ones. It is more real, like news footage. The Driver, of course again played by Clive Owen, has to save a war photographer (Stellan Skarsgard) who is shot. No funny moments this time, but action and suspense. Very well done.
  • Eliminate the country, the brutal government, most real names, and what you have is a look into the inner sole of what it is to be human. Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu does a masterful job with this piece based on a massacre of people and shooting of a war photographer. These BMW Films have all been exceptional. This is true art... when your friends complain about Hollywood, tell them they are not looking hard enough.
  • As part of the BMWFilms series, Powder Keg is one of several great short films commissioned by the car company. Inarritu is a fantastic director, and his genius shows through this gripping, action-packed car chase. What sets Inarritu's film apart from some of the other BMWfilms is the gritty detail, the harsh realism of what is being portrayed. The violence is not glamorized, nor the main character's plight as a photojournalist romanticized.
  • I was very surprised after watching the other films from the BMWs films "The Hire", because although all were clever and entertaining, none had the emotional power of this one. Guy Richie's was great but in a humorous way, and more as an homage to BMW's cars.... Powder Keg was about as deep and attaching and emotional and real as you can get in a 7 min film.

    Shot in a documentary style way in 16mm, it's a great look at the genius of an upcoming director. 8-1/2 /10
  • Perhaps there are people who would disdain the grainy look of this film, or hate the jumpy camera work. I, for one, think that Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu is a genius. You really have to appreciate his film making. Amores Perros is a must see for those of you who haven't seen it yet, and Powder Keg is no exception either. This film focuses much more on emotions and injustices in Central and South America, and really lays the drama on in the end. Brilliant work. I'm glad that BMW did this series, perhaps they will see fit to release it on DVD, that would be excellent.
  • acereoli29 May 2002
    Let me say first thanks to BMW. Though the original idea for The Hire movie series was inspired by commercial purposes (of course, they must sell cars), all movies are oriented to a real artistical approach more than to a market strategy. It's not just a matter of publicity... well done! This short by Alejandro Gonzales Inarritu is the best of the series. Alejandro is clearly one among the most talented directors of the new generation. His own powerful and dramatic way of shooting gives no way to compromises. Alejandro's language is made of cold lights, cameras never standing still, zooming and moving like it was a video reporter filming a battle. Take a look to his first (and of course, awarded and successful) movie Amores Perros and you will understand what I mean. Hope he will never give up his style for easier ways to make money. Great!!!
  • Powder Keg concludes the BMW short film series "The Hire" by adding a very human element to the enigmatic and elusive series title character played by Clive Owen. Director/co-writer Alejandro González Iñárritu departs from the pattern established by the previous 4 directors and makes the driver more of a background character, focusing instead on a war photographer who, after snapping a shocking series of photographs, is on the run and grievously injured. He takes the time to reflect on his life and what he's done-or not done-with it, and why he started taking pictures in the first place.

    Stellan Skarsgård does a wonderful job as the photographer, and manages to communicate volumes just as much with what he doesn't say as with what he does. Clive Owen has the opportunity to portray a different side to the driver then in the previous films, allowing his normally unflappable character to have an emotional moment beyond what we've seen. The moment at the end of the film between himself and the woman played by Lois Smith is made more pronounced by his inability to effectively communicate his thoughts and feelings, and his abrupt exit punctuates that perfectly.

    Iñárritu directs this short perfectly, using hand-held 16MM cameras to capture a grainy, almost documentary-like feel to the film, and over-exposure for certain shots adds the right amount of dramatic flair to the film.

    All in all, my only regret with this film is that it's the last one in this excellent series. BMW should be highly commended for allowing what could have been little more than overblown and expensive commercials to be short films in which the centerpiece vehicles sometimes took a back-seat to the characters and their stories instead. I hope to see another series like this again soon.
  • This last film was probably the most powerful of the series. Tense, riveting look at the life and death of a news cameraman. You learn more about this character than in many action full length films. Clive Owen also gets a chance to use his acting skills, certainly more than in the previous series. A gem of a film.
  • Alejandro González Iñárritu is not a household name, but he made a name for himself directing "Amores Perros" in 2001. That year and the following, BMW sponsored a series of 8 films all with the common theme that a BMW was prominently featured in it....and, of all things, Clive Owen starred in each one. For this odd experiment, some of the top directors in the world were somehow obtained--including John Woo, Ang Lee and even the great veteran director John Frankenheimer. Iñárritu was given a prime chance to 'mix it up with the big boys' by making this film and he did admirably. While I have only seen three of the films so far, I was surprised that "Powder Keg" is so far the best of them--even better than Frankenheimer's short (and I am a huge fan of his work). I think the reason is that unlike the other two films, the emphasis is less on spectacular chases and stunts (though there are some) but on telling the entire story--including some very emotionally draining aspects to this film that lift it to greatness. This is clearly NOT just a glorified ad for BMW but a wonderful little film you really should see. Just be sure to have a Kleenex nearby.
  • The Plot: Clive Owen ( before he was in "The Bourne Identity," "King Arthur," "Elisabeth: The Golden Age," and "Sin CIty" ) plays a "hire" who drives people places they desperately need to go.

    Often times, they are working for something "top secret" and can only give our protagonist limited information.

    Also, this is meant to show off the BMW car and is executive-produced by Tony Scott, Ridley Scott and David Fincher ( Panic Room, Alien 3 ).

    Directed by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu ( BABEL, 21 Grams ), this intense tale follows our hero in a foreign country torn by terrorist attacks trying to get a photographer (played by the excellent Stellan Skarsgard ) out of there and keep his photos unharmed.
  • I began watching these The Hire Videos after my friend mentioned that Guy Richie Directed Star, and I was hooked. I've downloaded all the videos using BMW's Video Player and I've been able to watch them all the time. Powder Keg isn't my favorite one, but ends the Short Film nicely as we experience every type of emotion that the driver gets while he does his job. The ending is well-done

    The only downside to this great series are the short Films between the movies. They make no sense and actually make you wonder why they even bothered to make them. If someone knows the true reason for their inclusion, please let me know
  • This is one of my favorite short films. This movie is the final one out of The Hire films. Clive Owen did a really great job playing The Driver. I was really sad at the end. I won't tell you what it is, but you should be sad.

    They are at Nuevo Colon and terrorists are attacking the current people there. Harvey Jacobs finds out about it, and starts taking pictures. Then he becomes seriously wounded, and The Driver is sent to rescue him. Then, a whole bunch of great stuff happens.

    This is one of the greatest short films ever made. Alejandro González Iñárritu did a really good job directing it.
  • Powder Keg is the fifth short made by BMW. The film is one of the better of the five shorts. Instead of the usually slick presentation of the other BMW shorts, Powder Keg takes a different approach going with a lot of handheld and grainy pictures. Clive Owen does a solid job as he has done in all of the BMW shorts. Clive Owen is responsible for bring a photographer back across the border, because he was injured. Of course there is a chase, but there is less action then most of the other shorts. The short is pretty effective and an enjoyable change of pace from some of the other disappointing shorts, like Star and Chosen. I would consider this short the second best of the five, with Follow being the best.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Another one of the BMW short films, 8 minutes live action, 3 minutes credits, this one came from Maxican director Alejandro González Iñárritu after he gave the world his famous feature film "Amores perros" and before he shot "21 Grams" and "Babel". This one is a bit different to the other films of the series. There's less action, a real moral conflict and more emotion. Sounds good, doesn't it? However, I'm not sure if it really is. For me, those films work the best when they're just entertaining fun. We shouldn't forget, it's still basically just a longer car-commercial. The sudden doubts in the mind of Skarsgård's character if it's justifiable to film and not to intervene appear very much out of nowhere and it's certainly difficult to really develop characters to which the viewer can make an emotional connection. However, what worked better for me was the final scene of the driver at the old lady's house. It's a decent short film, though not my favorite from the series.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    The first movie, The Ambush, delivered good action and I thought was good enough to start off the film series. Ang Lee's second short film was less than good with mediocre action scenes and a story that did not make much sense. He said he was going for the comedic approach, my advise to Mr. Lee, don't do comedy again.

    The third installment was the best so far, intriguing story and beautiful filming style. Then there was Guy Ritchie's film Star. It was, I thought, quite funny and the second best. Then we have the last one: Powder Keg by Alejandro Gonzales Inarritu, (remember that name), director of the critically acclaimed Amores Perros. His movie is inspired on the actual event of the massacre of Aguas Blancas which happened in Mexico's guerilla zone. The rest of the story is enitrely fictional and concerns a photographer who captures the event and becomes wounded when he is discovered by the militia. Clive Owen's driver character is sent to get him out of the war zone. Alejandro's script manages to create a story far more deep than all previous BMW films. The photographer's character starts to develop when he says he would like to have time to play with his kids, which he doesn't have because the life of a war photographer is very demanding and he hasn't had the chance to start a family which he regrets. He then laments what he has witnessed in the 15 wars he is covered by telling of the dying people that have that died at his feet begging for help. He is unable to help them and all he can do is take their picture as all he is after all is a witness. He then says he wishes on of his pictures would help change something so all the time he has dedicated to his career are worth something. Then we learn about his mother who influenced him to become a photographer by telling him 'to see'. We later learn the mother is blind. All this in about five minutes in the most natural way. The film is shot with energy and the style alone can evoke emotion even with the little dialogue it has. 'This is not a political movie but a movie about love between a man and his mother' says director Alejandro Gonzales Inarritu and it is true. Even if the characters never are in the same scene together. Alejandro Gonzales Inarritu is a genius, the other four directors have a chance here to learn a thing or two about movie-making.
  • In the fifth of the BMW short films call The Hire, The Driver is sent into Columbia to recover a wounded war photographer and pull him out of the country. The photographer laments his role as observer across war after war, looking to the few rolls of film he has of a massacre as being perhaps a way he can do good.

    The subject matter here is a real odd choice and it is all the odder when you view it in the context of the other short films in this series which are glossy and sleek generally. With this one though the filming is grainy and the focus is less on the vehicle and more on the dialogue between the two men – again, an odd thing for a film funded by BMW, but here we are. I was actually very open to the idea of something more than just another car chase short film, so I didn't have a problem with it in terms of its concept, just its delivery. You see there isn't anywhere near the grit that this suggests and it feels like it is "doing" gritty rather than being that way by natural of extension of what it is doing and what it is covering.

    This shows once the characters start interacting. The photographer's lamentations are fairly standard things and they are sturdy rather than natural in the writing. His dialogue is made worse though by the even clunkier lines delivered by the Driver, the worse by far being "but Mr Jacobs your photographs have done a lot of good" or something like that – with that line you could see Owen had no idea how to say it and make it work. The short also comes over as being hollow because really it doesn't have much to say at all on the world it is set in, which adds to the feeling of the dialogue being empty which then feeds back onto the film as a whole to make it seem like it is just wearing the clothes of concern for the sake of a short film.

    The most surprising thing then is that it was directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu, a director on the rise at the time after Amores Perros. He directs it like it is insightful, brave and challenging but this approach is totally at odds with the clunky nature of the script (such as the thing with the mother at the end) and the fact that the central thing about the short is selling a high-end luxury car. The latter point (about the commercial) I can swallow to a point, but it is the failure to deliver a story that doesn't feel hollow that really hurts me. It hurts the cast too. Skarsgård rolls in his own blood and laments his life of observation the best he can, but he is alone in the core of the film; Owen has a much harder job and he looks uncomfortable and cannot make even the smallest lines work.

    I applaud the BMW funders for trying to make some of their short films be "about" something and for not just making glossy action shorts (although they made those too!) but this film just doesn't work at all. Viewed on its own it is clunky, overly well-meaning and labours throughout its short run-time; however viewed alongside the other shorts, it stands out as odd all the more and frankly doesn't fit in with the overall concept of the films. I wanted it to work because it is the most "worthy" of the shorts, but to be honest the best I can say about it is that it "meant well".
  • poetryqn22 July 2001
    Much more than a car commercial, Powder Keg explodes with energy, intelligence and heart. A powerful statement on war and our response to it, this film short packs more punch than most major studio releases. Clive Owen and Stellan Skarsgard prove once again that these two actors do not know how to give a bad performance. Well worth watching for film and car buffs, alike.
  • Tears could not be held back when viewing this BMW film. The first film was a groundbreaking car chase by the "master" John Frankenheimer. The second was probably the most beautiful car chase ever filmed by Crouching Tiger and Ice Storm filmmaker Ang Lee. The third didn't really effect me as much as the others but it still held it's place. The Guy Richie fourth film was just downright hilarious, I have never seen Madonna utilized in... that way.

    Now I am brought to this film, done by Alejandro Gonzalez Inaritu, famous for his breakthrough film "Amores Perros" which I also had the pleasure of viewing. If you have not seen this movie I highly recommend it due to the fact that it leaves you feeling three different emotions for three different vignettes. A movie hasn't moved me in that way in a long time.

    "Powder Keg" follows The Driver, played by Clive Owen who is always portrayed in the other films as a hard-boiled merc with a soft side somewhere. In this film, his soft side is his care for human life. He knows his passenger may be dying from a gun shot wound but he doesn't want him to because he believes his passenger is key to preserving human life. On the flipside, his dying passenger believes that his sole purpose in life, as a war photographer, has been to photograph death. He believes he has never saved anyone and his pictures do nothing more but "Sell a few more papers"

    Without ruining any of the actions that take place in the second half of these 8 minutes, I assure you that in these 8 minutes you will feel more intensity, hatred, sadness, and fear than in any other 8 minutes of watching a film. At a point I felt the same intensity of watching a "certain" scene from "The Deer Hunter", at points, this film shares the same mood of the "The Deer Hunter" and "Amores Perros", but at the same time creates it's own mood. This film will start you with open eyes and leave you with eyes of tears. There is nothing bad I can say about this movie because it was never cheesy, never dragging, and never melo-dramatic. And if you are moved deeply by this film I highly recommend "Amores Perros" which is done in the same style.

    I conclude by giving credit where credit is due. I am sure it is not news when I state that Clive Owen is an amazing actor. In this film he delivers his best performance. The reasoning behind this being his best performance is that his eyes contain so much emotion that you can feel exactly what he is. Also that is a great job on Inaritu's part being able to capture that emotion. An all around amazing 8 minutes. Required viewing. 10/10
  • I will start off by saying my ONLY beef was that we didn't get to see enough of this X5 - the absolute ONLY "suv" on the streets that you can take on the race track off the showroom floor and, in 4.4 V8 trim, have run with the M3's.

    That said, this film was great. Powerful, to the point, BEAUTIFULLY acted, mysterious in it's ending, and just downright superb. I will say no more - watch it, it's free.

    9/10, simply because they TOYED with my heart by giving us some great X5 action, just not enough of it. :)
  • Powder Keg is most unlike the other BMW films. It's as different in its way as Star was. Where Star was humorous and light, Powder Keg is dark and bloody. The first of the films that deserves and R Rating, it has profanity and violence unlike the others; sensitive viewers beware. That said, its story is well written. The photographer's sense of frustration over not having done enough to help those he photographs, the oppressive presence of armed militia everywhere, the desperate need to make the border against overwhelming forces, and most of all, the bloody back seat of the vehicle, all paint a picture of doom and gloom for the characters. The scene at the end with the mother explains the earlier comment by the photographer, "My mother taught me to see." The driver's feelings of loss and failure, assuaged not at all by delivering the dog tags, is well acted out.

    I hope this isn't the end for this fine series.
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