A few years back, BMW teamed up with David Fincher to create a series of short films for the Internet to spotlight the automaker's cars.
High-profile film directors were given the opportunity to work with Clive Owen as the series driver and a $1 million production budget in the service of punchy action-oriented storytelling with sleek cars in the lead. John Frankenheimer's installment, Ambush, the first online release, leapt out the gate and set the standard that stylists like John Woo, Guy Ritchie and Joe Carnahan were hard-pressed to maintain. Frankenheimer, as the aging master, was a skilled technician, able to infuse substance into the most stylistic exercise, as can be seen in this four-disc set from the MGM vaults. The first two films here, The Young Savages and The Train, feature Burt Lancaster, an Oscar winner who matches up perfectly with his hard-driving, no-frills director, whether it's navigating the halls of justice in pursuit of a young blind boy's killers or saving rare art treasures from the Nazis near the end of World War II. With The Manchurian Candidate, which features Oscar nominee Angela Lansbury and Frank Sinatra, Frankenheimer assembled a classic thriller that upstages a recent remake by refusing to twist itself up into too many knots. Finally, the post-Cold War espionage of Ronin thematically spotlights first-class warriors seeking to navigate the new world order, much like directors in this brave new world. Frankenheimer proves that a sure hand on the helm is all that matters. Grade: B+
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