Thursday, September 9, 2010

"Armored" (2009)

Starring Columbus Short, Matt Dillon and Laurence Fishburne
Written by James Simpson
Directed by Nimrod Antal

I remember being intrigued by the concept of "Armored" - a thriller where a security guard traps himself inside an armored car in order to keep thieves from seizing the money within, and the trailer seemed cool enough.  But I never went and saw "Armored" in theatres, waiting until I noticed that it became available for streaming on Netflix (which, by the way, fuels this entire blog and is totally the best $20 I spend every month).

Unfortunately, "Armored" doesn't manage to live up to the promise of its premise, or its cast.  Columbus Short stars as Hackett, the newbie on a team of private security guards working for an armored car company.  The other members of the team, played by Matt Dillon, Jean Reno, Laurence Fishburne, Amaury Nalasco and Skeet Ulrich are planning a major heist - $42 million dollars.  Cochrane (Dillon) decides to recruit Hackett for the heist when he learns that Hackett is in danger of losing his house to the bank and custody of his younger brother to Child Welfare.

At first, Hackett goes along with the plan, but grows more and more uncomfortable as time passes.  When Hackett witnesses Cochrane murder an unarmed, homeless witness, he realizes he's in over his head and locks himself inside the car with the money.  Hackett tries everything he can to keep them from breaking into the car, and from killing anyone else.  When a young police officer (Milo Ventimiglia) stumbles across the scene, Cochrane nearly kills him, too.

"Armored" could have been a really cool, tense and intelligent thriller.  Instead, it just kind of all happens.  And there's not much more to it.  One might think that there might be some kind of tense back and forth as Hackett and the others deal with the difficulties of breaking into an armored car and keeping people out of one, but instead it mostly boils down to the crew taking turns banging on the door hinges for the second half of the film.  Pacing is also an issue; the film spends far too much time setting things up rather than getting to the meat of the story, set up that isn't all very necessary or even interesting.

The cast is fine enough, though their characters aren't particularly memorable.  Hackett is a very typical lower-class everyman struggling to get by and provide for his family.  His motivation for initially joining the heist is standard heist movie hero stuff, even more so than the rest of the team, which is motivated by even simpler greed.  None of them are given any kind of motivation for joining the heist to make us feel sympathetic towards them at all; they're all ultimately just the bad guys, though there are a couple of good moments that allow us to feel bad for them.

Ultimately, "Armored" just doesn't have deep enough characterization for its players to be truly interesting, and it doesn't utilize its premise enough to be truly thrilling.  What we do get is certainly well made.  Nimrod Antal is a decent enough director, and can handle action sequences and elicits good performances from his cast.  But "Armored" just feels like two hours of potential that isn't capitalized on.