Directed by: Nimród Antal (Vacancy)
Starring: Columbus Short, Matt Dillon, Laurence Fishburne, Jean Reno, Milo Ventimiglia
Earlier tonight, a friend asked me if Nimród Antal’s Armored was worth catching. My honest response was that he’d probably be better served waiting until it starts its constant rotation on basic cable in a couple years. This is still the best description I can give for what kind of movie Armored is. It’s that right level of adequacy and mindless entertainment that’s perfectly at home being interrupted by commercials every few minutes.
The movie itself is your basic heist thriller, or to be more specific, the subgenre of “heist gone wrong.” Armored actually plays like a less mean-spirited, less clever version of Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs (1992), right down to the dingy warehouse and occasional bloodletting. But really, the movie owes a lot to any number of crime flicks that have come down the pike in recent years. Surprisingly, however, no matter how derivative or unoriginal Armored might be, it manages to be just engaging enough to withstand its running time.
A lot of this might be due to the generic nature of the plot, since it’s one that’s familiar and easily goosed for entertainment value. The story line is a simple one, with a group of armored-car guards cooking up what they think is the perfect plan for thieving $42 million. The only problem is that they need rookie guard Ty (Columbus Short, Whiteout) to be in on the plan as well, despite his reluctance. However, with a house close to foreclosure and his brother about to be taken away by Social Services, Ty soon comes around, but with the stipulation that no one gets hurt.
Of course, since this is a movie, complications abound, from a wandering homeless man to a nosy street cop, and faster than you can say “hell in a hand basket,” the guards’ perfect plan has unraveled and the body count has risen, causing Ty to go rogue in an attempt to set things straight. Since he’s former military, our hero comes across as a sort of bargain-bin Rambo, sneaking around and making bombs out of random objects (what these objects are, we’re never quite sure) all to save the day.
All of this is just an excuse to up the action quotient, complete with explosions, shoot outs, car chases and the occasional stabbing, with a smidgen of psychological drama thrown in to shake things up. None of it, however, is anything new—it’s all the same explosions, shoot outs, car chases and occasional stabbings you’ve seen a million times before. This doesn’t keep the movie and its simplicity from being mildly engaging, but it’s nothing to get in a tizzy over. Rated PG-13 for sequences of intense violence, some disturbing images and brief strong language.