Armored is what you might consider solid, mediocre entertainment. It's solid because of its strong performances, slick editing and relentless energy. It's mediocre, however, because the plot is unoriginal, the action feels recycled and, well, the movie just doesn't impact us all that much. With a movie like this, you can either take it or leave. I'd say take it, but not in the theater.
Movie Review: Armored
By Matthew Huntley
December 17, 2009
The plot we've seen before (in one form or another): A group of security guards transferring $42 million in armored trucks scheme to steal the money for themselves. They're led by the overconfident Mike (Matt Dillon), who thinks he has control of the situation and the other guys—Baines (Laurence Fishburne), Quinn (Jean Reno), Palmer (Amaury Nolasco) and Dobbs (Skeet Ulrich). The one maverick is Ty (Columbus Short), who's only participating because the bank is threatening to take his house, which means he'd lose custody of his younger brother. He's in as long as nobody gets hurt.
But then someone gets hurt, and the moralistic Ty decides he can't let the other guys get away with this. The situation become a one-man-against-five battle as Ty seals himself inside the truck and attempts to find a way out (it's sort of like "Panic Room" on wheels). Things get more complicated when a cop (Milo Ventimiglia) enters the picture.
Because the movie actually takes time to develop its characters and situation (as straightforward as they may be), and thanks to the strong performances, particularly from Dillon and Short, I took Armored more seriously than I expected. The director is Nimród Antal, who made the tense and underrated Vacancy. Once again, Antal shows he has a knack for stories in which the characters are placed in unbelievable situations but respond to them in a grounded, realistic way. Armored could have gone over the top, but it's loyal to its own reality, with the exception of the perfunctory chase scene at the end, which had me begging the question, why doesn't the hero just step out of the way? Why is he continuing to run in a straight line?
But the movie isn't original or masterful enough to warrant a trip to the theater. It's the type of movie that's ideal for traveling on a plane or bus because you don't have to catch all the dialogue to know what's going on, and the action, however regurgitated it may seem, holds your attention (it's sort of neat how Ty uses his limited resources to thwart his enemies). I recommend the movie on that level, and on that level, it is well-made and entertaining. It's solid, yes, but also mediocre.