Armored is not a movie I went into with high expectations. At the same time, the trailer made it look like fun and I am always up for a fun, brainless movie. Unfortunately, that is not what I got. Armored is a movie that lacks character, action, story and, ultimately, interest. It is a slick production, but looks can only take you so far. I actually wanted to enjoy this — it has a good cast and a decent director. If only the script had been a little bit more developed.
Los Angeles-born director Nimrod Antal is an intriguing man. He is a talented director who seems to be saddled with sub-par material. Well, that is at least partially true. Antal emigrated to Hungary where he would make the highly regarded Kontroll (which I have not yet seen). He then came back to the states where he directed the Hitchcockian horror Vacancy, a film that split audiences but which I really enjoyed.
Now he delivers Armored. This latest film has some of his directorial flash, but the tale is bereft of anything substantive. There is an inverse correlation between his talent and the quality of scripts he gets to work with. Hopefully this will change with his next project, Predators.
Armored is a heist film that forgets to give us a reason to care and fails to inject any level of true intelligence. The movie seems content to coast on Nimrod Antal's directorial skills and the posing and posturing of the cast. The cast also seeks to distract by collecting a number of recognizable faces who all seem to have decided they just needed a paycheck at the same time.
So, what is the story? It concerns a group of armored car guards who have decided they want a little piece of the pie they carry for themselves. To that end, they have devised a plan to take $42 million. Before they can do that, they have to test the newest guard, Ty Hackett (Columbus Short). We see all of this in the trailer and before long we are off and running.
If you have seen the trailer you know that the heist goes wrong, a cop shows up, Ty tries to do the right thing, and some chaos ensues. The trailer suffers the same fatal flaw that so many modern trailers do — it gives you all the big plot points. You essentially see the movie in two minutes or less.
What we don't see in the trailer is the one attempt to give our hero a cause, a reason to be good, plus place him in a moral and ethical dilemma where he may need the money they are stealing. Now, I am not going to give that to you here, as I am sure there are some of you who still want to see it. Screenwriter James V. Simpson tries to give it some heart and resonance, but it just does not feel real. For that matter, the whole movie feels half-baked, as if it was rushed out the door to meet a deadline. For all I know that may be true. If you stop and think about how it plays out, there does not seem to be any intelligence given to their plan. Feel free to write in and poke some holes in the heist and its aftermath.
As for the cast? It is loaded with people I have liked in other projects. Matt Dillon (Singles) gives us his best scowl and tough guy routine as the one-note head bad guy. Jean Reno (The Professional) gives a goofy smile and is one part of the muscle. Laurence Fishburne (Event Horizon) is the other half of the muscle playing backup badass to Dillon. Skeet Ulrich (Scream) is the weak-willed member of the group who always needs to be reminded which side he's on. Amaury Nolasco (Prison Break) is the religious man who believes he is doing the righteous thing. That gives us our bad guys. They all seem to have shown up, realized what sort of movie it was, and just went about their business with little heart.
I would have to say Nimrod Antal comes out the best of the bunch. He did not have much to work with in terms of the screenplay. Still, he was able to give us a little energy in the way the scenes are staged, and the angles chosen show that Antal is a talent waiting to show us what he can do. He has a kinetic style that will hopefully serve him well in other projects. He is a talent in search of a project (and I hope his pairing with producer Robert Rodriguez on Predators proves to be that project).
Bottom line. This movie gives the potential audience an easy decision on whether or not to see it. Watch the trailer, skip the movie. You get the same story and don't waste your time.