Monday, December 7, 2009

Movie Review: Armored

Armored **
Directed By:
Nimrod Antal.
Written By: James V. Simpson.
Starring: Matt Dillon (Mike Cochrone), Columbus Short (Ty Hackett), Jean Reno (Quinn), Laurence Fishburne (Baines), Amaury Nolasco (Palmer), Fred Ward (Duncan Ashcroft), Milo Ventimiglia (Eckehart), Skeet Ulrich (Dobbs), Andre Kinney (Jimmy Hackett).

I cannot think of a robbery of an armored car in cinema history that has gone according to plan. Something always goes wrong, and promises of “no one getting hurt” are forgotten and the body count rises throughout the movie, as the robbers not only kill whoever gets in their way, but also start to kill each other. Armored is the latest in a long string of movies that follow this formula. It follows it much too closely to be truly effective – we know well before the characters do how everything is going to play out.

Ty Hackett (Columbus Short) has just returned from Iraq, and now works as a guard for an armored car company. His parents are dead, and he has to take care of his brother Jimmy (Andre Kinney), although his job doesn’t pay him enough to keep up on the payments on his house. His godfather Mike (Matt Dillon) also works for the armored car company, and tells him not to worry. With the help of Quinn (Jean Reno), Baines (Laurence Fishburne), Palmer (Amaury Nolasco) and Dobbs (Skeet Ulrich), he plans on taking down not one but two armored cars, on one of the biggest bank transfer days of the year – netting $42 million. Because these are the men in charge of the transfer, there should be no problem. They’ll take the money, stash it somewhere, then claim they were jacked. No one gets hurt, and everyone comes away rich. Ty is unsure of the plan, but ends up going along with it anyway.

Of course things go wrong. In the deserted warehouse in the even more deserted industrial section of town, they come across a bum sleeping there, who sees everything they are doing. Baines kills shoots him, and Ty tries to help him as he’s not dead yet, but Mike takes care of that. Ty’s conscience gets the best of him, and he ends up locking himself inside one of the car, still full of money, and trying to get someone on the radio. Wouldn’t you know it, but the radio cannot get a signal. Neither apparently, can his cell phone. They have an hour before they will be missed, so the other five guys try to get him out of there, planning on killing him when they do. When a cop (Milo Ventimiglia) shows up, things get even uglier.

Armored is one of those movies where it is best not to think too hard about what is happening during its running time. If like me, you find that impossible, then it’s hard to really enjoy the movie, as most of the characters are idiots, and they do a series of illogical things. Written by James V. Simpson and directed by Nimord Antal, the movie obviously wants to be a film like Reservoir Dogs, where a group of criminals are holed up in a warehouse and try and talk their way through how to solve their problems. But Simpson and Antal cannot just leave it at that – they have to throw in action sequences, and implausible plot twists to go along with it. The actors are game, but aside from Matt Dillon who is quite good as Mike, the rest of the cast is left twisting in the wind, unsure of what really to do. The bad guys just seem to wait around until it’s their turn to die.

At just under 90 minutes, Armored at least goes by quickly. It is certainly not an awful movie. It’s just a movie with no ambition whatsoever. The filmmakers tell the story they set out to make well enough. I just couldn’t help wondering why they bothered to tell this story at all.

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