BMW's Unique Take On Imitation


Christopher Walken is walkin’, but barely doing the talkin’, in this seriously amusing new 60-second Super Bowl commercial for BMW from Goodby, Silverstein and Partners.

Walken’s the man in the BMW's first ever electric sedan, a large-and-in-charge driving machine.

But is Walken in charge? In this artfully made spot (directed by Bryan Buckley), we follow him during the course of his day.

The set-up is classic storytelling, like Virginia Woolf’s “Mrs. Dalloway,” if instead of giving a dinner party in 1920s England she somehow appeared right before the 2024 halftime show as a famous deadpan actor encountering imitators as he drives his roomy electric car.

But I digress. Anyway, that’s the greatness Walken brings, just by showing up.

At every stop, would-be impersonators -- a valet, a dog walker, a make-up artist, a barista, etc. -- try to address him in his own hard-to-place accent and unique, jumpy speech pattern.



He’s impossible to mimic, so these are a string of sad, pale (but funny!) imitations that annoy him.

The tag line is “There is only one Christopher Walken, and only one ultimate driving machine.”

And indeed. Walken is an actor’s actor, a virtuoso, and even a bit of an electrifying vessel himself.

He won an Oscar in 1979 for his evil role as Nick in “The Deer Hunter.” The previous year, he stood out in “Annie Hall” as Duane, Annie’s odd and disturbed brother, who in a monotone tells Alvy (Woody Allen) that he sometimes thinks about driving into traffic. Then he drives Alvy to the airport.

Walken's also known for playing the music producer who keeps on yelling “more cowbell” in a famous “Saturday Night Live” comedy sketch.  

No matter the medium, he plays comedy straight and wooden-faced, which is hilarious.

In the BMW spot, he finally finds himself in a fancy restaurant and the waiter does his own impression while leading him to the table.  He’s pissed and says “yeah.”

He’s met by another “yeah” from a booth across the way. It turns out to be from the ultimate “Yeah” man, Usher himself.

“Don’t you got someplace to be?”  Walken says, possibly as himself.

And Usher exits up an elegant art deco-ish staircase, clicking his heels with a bit of dancer finesse as he hits the landing.

This is a clever meta media placement joke, as Usher is the halftime entertainer, and this spot will run right  before halftime.

Later, even the announcer/ voiceover comes in with a Walken impression, a nice touch that makes the actor laugh as he’s driving.

All kinds of walls are breaking here as in the end we watch Walken riden.

It’s a smooth and easy 60-second ride.

It works because like Walken himself, the commercial is self-aware and layered.

The car looks good, too.

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