Movie review: Armored

“Armored” is an action thriller in name only, a movie so simple that it barely meets the requirements of the genre. It’s 88 minutes of pure, disposable entertainment, one that doesn’t even bother to throw in any decent twists or standout set pieces to separate itself from the pack.

It’s too bad, because director Nimrod Antal has collected an interesting array of talent, including Matt Dillon, Laurence Fishburne, Jean Reno and Skeet Ulrich (!), only to squander them.

This is the kind of film where you can predict who will die and in what order, and there’s not even a half-hearted attempt to toss the audience a curveball.

No, this movie belongs to Columbus Short, star of “Stomp The Yard,” and apparently the new black action star. Sony (aka Screen Gems, the “low-budget” arm of the company) signed Short to a two-picture deal after the success of “Stomp,” and so he gets to do the heavy lifting despite being the least-famous actor in the cast.

Short stars as Ty, a young Iraq War vet who has just joined the armored-truck company his recently deceased father worked for. Ty is trying to make ends meet with the banks breathing down his neck (why doesn’t he just sell the house and get an apartment?) and keep his younger brother in line while learning the ropes on his new job.

Fortunately, Ty can count on the advice of old family friend Mike (Dillon), who takes Ty under his wing and brings him into the motley group of drivers that all hang out at the local pub. Making no bones about their apparent intentions, they start regaling Ty with stories of drivers who got robbed, and the legendary story of the crew that got away with a big score.

You can easily see where this is going, don’t you? Mike invites Ty to get in on the big score: a $42 million deposit that the crew will be able to split after staging a fake robbery. Ty wants no part of it at first, but when he’s faced with more drama at home (again, why not sell the house?) he decides to throw his principles out the window for an easy score.

Of course, things don’t go as planned, and when the hot-headed Baines (Fishburne) makes a trigger-happy decision, all hell breaks loose.

Instantly, Ty decides he’s a good guy again and barricades himself in one of the trucks, turning himself against the rest of the crew and the movie into a cat-and-mouse game as they try to flush him out. This means we get about 25 minutes of Dillon, Fishburne and Reno – three solid-to-great actors – attempting to open a truck door.

There are a couple of brief chases, a few explosions, some gunshots, a punch or two, but that’s about it. It comes and goes in a flash, and before you know it, the credits have rolled.

Short is a charismatic actor, but I’m not sure I bought him as action stud (after all, he was a choreographer for Britney Spears, for cryin’ out loud). As I said before, everyone else is barely around enough to make an impact.

Hey, I can throw out the implausibilities of the situation – I seriously doubt any armored-truck company goes through such rudimentary safety procedures as the ones shown here – or the questionable decisions by some the characters.

What I can’t support is an action movie that sacrifices, well, action. “Armored” probably will work a lot better when it pops up on pay cable in a few months and you can utilize it as background noise.

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~ by Elliott on December 8, 2009.

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