The last time I viewed a movie directed by Nimrod Antal was the horror thriller “Vacancy”. While I didn’t exactly enjoy that movie (save for wonderful Kate Beckinsale) I thought the direction at least had respect to the genre. “Armored” is written by newcomer James Simpson and the story is as formulaic as the last heist movie, but the screenplay is nicely developed, with the charms of a patchy crime thriller injected with some B-movie sensibilities.
Ty Hackett (Columbus Short) is a young, decorated struggling army veteran who is trying to make things ends meet with his younger brother (Andre Kinney) after the death of their parents. Ty has taken a job as an armored truck guard alongside a family friend, Mike (Matt Dillon). The night before a run for a colossal cash run, Mike makes a proposition to Ty to join his band of needy guards (Laurence Fishburne, Jean Reno, Amaury Velasco and Skeet Ulrich) to rip off the 42 million dollars they will be transporting. Ty is hesitant as first but eventually agrees to the scheme just to keep his brother out of foster care, on the condition that no one gets hurt. The plan goes without a hitch, but when certain things go awry that leads to bad decisions and blind panic, Ty finds himself stuck in a situation that he has to fight for his survival…
The plot of “Armored” is pretty routine, real predictable and sidesteps characterization to put the viewer straight to the meat of the action. The screenplay is pretty lean and straight-forward, it just gives the viewer a look at the lives and the camaraderie of our armored truck guards, Ty’s money problems and several issues that can be solved with a pile of dollars. The movie is real lean and short (clocks in at 80 minutes) and ignores the complex schemes of robbery. The plot is crystal clear and is not pretentious, the characters in the movie need money to get out of a financial bind…period. The script does keep the set ups real tight as the heist ends up in an abandoned steel mill, on a race against time, they need to get the job done before the next call to the head office.
That is, until things go very awry.
The characters in “Armored” are also quite pretty straight-forward. Much of their development occurs from the dialogue in the film. Dobbs has a family, Palmer is religious, Mike is a godfather and so forth. I guess it was a good idea to keep the audience at arm’s length as to what surprises and suspense the movie achieves would come to how they react when put in a real bad situation. We do know some important things about our characters, and the less we know about them, the more surprising their reactions and how they dealt with the dilemma would be, or so director Antal thought. It was effective to a certain point, as the twists and turns may be predictable but the tight screenplay kept us guessing as the situation goes from real bad to worst. There’s a stumbling armored car chase sequence, a trigger-happy accident (as seen in the trailer), a cop (Milo Ventimiglia) that complicates matters further, some fraidy cats, a double-cross and a kidnapping. The film really follows the established trappings of a heist flick.
It’s a good thing that Antal manages to keep the movie at a brisk pace, aided with some great acting from Reno, Fishburne, and Dillon. Short and Ventimiglia were good in their roles, while Ulrich and Velasco are the decent ones. The characters get to know themselves when put in a corner as the film also somewhat plays like a short morality play. I guess money and greed are indeed the root of all evil; and that crime does not pay.
As I’ve said, “Armored” is a routine crime thriller. While I didn’t hate it and I was entertained for its 80 minute runtime, I can’t really think of anything special about the movie that would make me recommend it. The film is something sort of an ‘escapism’ and usually, movies labeled as ‘escapism’ are crappy, but Nimrod Antal’s “Armored” isn’t pretentious and it was sincere in its intentions that I respected it. The movie is streamlined ‘action junk’ and should not be seen as anything more.
RENTAL [2 ½ Stars] HYPE LEVEL: What hype? Save for the trailer, the movie wasn’t even screened to critics in advance prior to its release. As I’ve said, it was pretty much a no-nonsense heist movie and knows that it is nothing but a formula movie.
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Nimrod Antal (VACANCY) directs this high-powered heist movie starring Matt Dillon, Jean Reno, and Laurence Fishburne. The plot follows the supposedly genius plot of a group of armored car men who decide to steal from their own company. But their plan begins to fall apart when an innocent person intervenes in their attempt.