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We love a movie that has cool cars, but movies with BMWs make them better. We look at the BMWs that have become stars on the silver screen over the years.

30 Aug 2019


As car enthusiasts, watching a film that revolves around a car is great. Because of the nature of the cars and stories, the cars in the different films are often relatable, even if they are merely just tools to accessorise the movies. But BMWs somehow aren't just accessories to storytelling. In some, they are the story.

Here are the BMW cars that aren't just extras.

1995 - 1999: James Bond - BMW Z3 (E36/7), Z8 (E52), 750iL (E38)

The BMW Z8 was featured in The World Is Not Enough, which unfortunately gets sawed in half
While James Bond's name is synonymous with British sports cars, there was a period of time when the special agent found himself driving BMWs.

In fact, BMWs starred in three James Bond films - GoldenEye (BMW Z3), Tomorrow Never Dies (BMW 750iL), and The World Is Not Enough (BMW Z8).

As the vehicle of choice for the British Secret Service's special agent, you can expect it to be decked out in all sorts of special equipment - from tear gas emitters in the 7 Series, to surface-to-air missiles in the Z8.

1998: Ronin - BMW 5 Series (E34)

While Ronin did use the E34 5 Series, the film swaps between the M5 and the 535i in the chase scene
Some have called it the greatest car chase scene in modern cinema. We cannot disagree.

The particular chase scene that features the E34 5 Series happens in tight Paris city streets. Most of the car chase was filmed in real time, with stunt drivers driving upwards of 160km/h just to have the thrilling sense of speed caught on film.

There is an ongoing debate on which E34s were used in the film. Watching it, you can spot two - a 535i and an M5.

2002: The Transporter - BMW 750iL (E38)

The V12-powered 750iL used in The Transporter is unique, as it's the last 7 Series offered with a manual transmission
In the whole Transporter series, our favourite has to be the first.

Jason Statham plays Frank Martin, a professional wheelman for hire. In his transportation business, he goes by three simple rules: Don't change the deal, no names, and never open the package.

The car which Frank uses for the job is a black BMW 750iL, badged as a 735i. It is also fitting that it is a manual.

As it turns out, the E38 was the last 7 Series that was offered with a manual transmission.

2003: Bimmer - BMW 750iL (E38)

In Bimmer, four criminals used a stolen E38 to escape through the vast Siberian landscape
Bimmer, or Bumer in Russian, is a rather obscure film. It revolves completely around a car and, in this case, a stolen black E38 7 Series.

In what was a failed carjacking incident, four friends find themselves travelling through the vast Russian landscape, fleeing from corrupted cops and Russian gangsters.

While the plot seems rather simple, it paints an interesting picture as to the lawlessness that ran through the country as post-Soviet reforms were introduced.

2013: Locke - BMW X5 M50d (E70)

In Locke, Tom Hardy's character tries to keep his life together behind the wheel of an X5 M50d
Many have mentioned that Tom Hardy acts through his eyes. Because in more popular appearances such as in The Dark Knight and Dunkirk, he wears a mask most of the time.

But in Locke, you get to see Tom Hardy's full face. The drama happens in the driver's seat of the X5, as he makes calls through the iDrive infotainment system.

It is a very interesting concept of storytelling through film. While the visuals mostly revolve around the car, it remains a gripping drama.

2013: Fast and Furious 6 - BMW M5 (E60)

More known for its tuner cars, three BMW M5s make a classy apperance in Fast and Furious 6, one of which is piloted by the late Paul Walker
The Fast and Furious franchise is probably recognised for its rather outlandish tuner cars.

But in Fast and Furious 6, the E60 BMW M5 makes an appearance in a chase scene in London, where three black BMW M5s cut through the city.

As much as the Fast and Furious franchise is the pinnacle of car culture, it incorrectly refers to the E60 M5 as powered by a twin-turbo V8, when it is in fact a naturally aspirated V10 unit. As cheesy as the series is, we like that the M5's appearance adds a touch of class to the Fast and Furious franchise.

2014: The Gambler - BMW 1M (E82)

The BMW 1M stars in the opening scene of The Gambler
In The Gambler, the BMW 1M stars alongside Jim Bennett, a literature professor with a bad gambling habit, played by Mark Wahlberg.

The 1M makes an appearance in the opening sequence of the movie. Jim seemingly stares into blank space as shifts through the gears and swerves through traffic at speed.

It is almost like he's gambling with his life here driving dangerously. The 1M is certainly a great choice for a star movie car. Interestingly, one of the characters in the film incorrectly refers to the 1M as an 'M1' in the movie.

2015: Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation - BMW M3 (F30)

Most of the driving stunts in the film were done by Tom Cruise himself
In the franchise of Mission: Impossible, operatives of the Impossible Missions Force is tasked to complete, well, impossible missions.

So it makes a lot of sense that Tom Cruise pilots a BMW M3 into a series of impossible tasks in Rogue Nation. Like going down a flight of stairs, or flying backwards out of a tight street in Marrakesh.

Particularly special is the fact that Tom Cruise did all of the driving - wild stunts included. In the following sequel, Fallout, the current-generation BMW M5 was also featured.

2017: Wheelman - BMW 3 Series 330i ZHP (E46)

The 330i ZHP is the closest thing to having a four-door E46 M3
As the name suggests, Wheelman centres itself around a getaway driver, in a failed bank robbery attempt.

While similar to The Transporter, Wheelman isn't a movie with a quirky, funny twist. It is gripping. It is also stylised like Locke, where the film never leaves the car.

The BMW used is a 330i Performance Package (ZHP) - a highly-strung M54 3.0-litre straight-six paired to a short-ratio six-speed manual transmission. For the E46 generation, it is the closest you could get to having M3 prowess with four-doors.

2018: Mission: Impossible - Fallout - BMW M5 (F90)

The BMW M5 that makes an appearance in Fallout is decked out in M Performance parts, like a black kidney grille and carbon fibre mirror caps
In the latest Mission Impossible movie, BMWs make another appearance under the hands of Ethan Hunt, Tom Cruise's character.

The current generation BMW M5 F90 is Hunt's main mode of transport. It gets loaded with some cool gadgets, allowing Hunt to control the M5 via remote control.

But the other BMW that makes a cool appearance is the E28 5 Series, where it is driven upwards of 160km/h through Paris city streets for the chase scene.

Must watch: The Hire - BMW 328i (E46), 540i (E39, G30), 740i (E38), M5 (E39), X5 (E53), Z3 (E36/7), Z4 (E85)

Before YouTube, BMW already was making waves with The Hire, effectively changing the way we see branded content in film
While movies featuring BMWs are cool, the Bavarian carmaker itself has released a series of short films showcasing its cars.

Starring Clive Owen, famous directors such as Guy Ritchie and Wong-Kar Wai were asked to direct these films, and they are pretty impressive.

In fact, French film director Luc Besson has credited the series as a major influence in the creation of The Transporter. After all, the first movie did feature a BMW.
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