In an effort to tank up on some cool points, BMW climbs into the entertainment driver seat with “The Hire,” a five-part series of short action films about a mysterious driver (well played by “Croupier’s” steely Clive Owen) who must transport or follow a bevy of characters while driving, surprise, a different BMW each time. Series appears on BMWFilms.com and MediaTrip.com.Spearheaded by helmer David Fincher and Anonymous Content, each six-minute episode is directed with a different vision by A-listers John Frankenheimer, Ang Lee, Wong Kar-Wai, Guy Ritchie and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu. Andrew Kevin Walker (“Seven”) scripted the series. While the site, which bowed April 26, is flashy enough and backed by a major print, television and online ad campaign to attract Netizens, the end results of the project, however, are mixed. In a smart move, BMW is first bowing the shorts online, then plans to show them inside theaters, before the featurepic, as well as package them as a DVD. The series, created to show off BMW’s lineup of vehicles, should do well to attract auds. Whether it will entice auds to buy the pricey vehicles is another matter. But increased brand awareness is always a good thing. ‘Ambush’ by John Frankhenheimer
* * * * With “Ronin,” which boasted a hair-raising car chase involving a BMW, influencing “The Hire” series, it’s no surprise that Frankenheimer, the pic’s car-loving helmer, directs the first episode, “Ambush.” In the thrilling short, masked gunmen threaten to fire unless the driver stops his 7-series sedan and surrenders his passenger, a seemingly harmless man they accuse of smuggling diamonds. Shot in true high-octane Frankenheimer fashion, with cameras attached to the side and front of the car to record its quick maneuvering, the seriously-toned short maintains enough style, stunts and twists to remain memorable. Unfortunately, however, not as memorable as “Ronin.” ‘Chosen’ by Ang Lee
* * * * Ang Lee takes a more playful approach with the second installment, “Chosen,” spinning his four-wheeled 5-series model in a ballet dance with the car’s gun-toting pursers who are trying to kidnap an Asian boy. Prior to the short’s excitingly handled chase sequence, the boy hands the driver a mysterious box. What’s inside the box ends up being clever plug of Lee’s next pic, Universal’s big-budget “The Incredible Hulk” — a Band-Aid featuring none other than the giant green superhero, himself. Nice touch. ‘The Follow’ by Wong Kar-Wal
* It’s the third episode, “The Follow,” that doesn’t work, however. Helmer Wong Kar-Wai strays away from the action and even the obsession with the cars in the first two and tries to give the driver something more emotional to chew on while pursuing a mysterious woman driving a silver Z3. But it doesn’t work. Not even appearances by thesps ForestWhitaker and Mickey Rourke can save it. Too existential and philosophical for the average Netizen, the six-minute short becomes a forgettable chore to watch with its somber voice-over and dreamily lit scenes, that it ends up as a perfect example of entertainment that doesn’t work on the Internet.