Nimrod Antal, whose next film is the reboot Predators, may not have given us a groundbreaking, genre-reinventing crime film with Armored. It's pretty safe filmmaking as it goes, lacking the sort of explicit language and the like from harder-edged similar films. But what he has delivered is a rather efficient and entertaining film that does what it needs to do in a breezy amount of time.
The film follows a group of security officers who deliver money from one location to another in armoured trucks. They one day decide to steal an unusually large amount of the money that they're supposed to take to a bank, stash it, and then pretend that they were robbed. However, just when everything seems to be going according to plan, the newest member of the team changes his mind and locks himself in one of the trucks with half of the money. The rest of the team now have a limited amount of time to get into the practically impenetrable truck before their company figures out what they're doing.
Its threadbare plot only just sustains the runtime of just under 90 minutes. Any more than that and it would have felt like it dragged. But luckily the script, written by newcomer James V. Simpson, doesn't waste any time getting to the necessary plot points, ranging from the initial change of heart with the one member of the group not willing to go along with the plan as agreed, to the inevitable conflict between the rest of the team. That kind of thing can be appreciated in this genre, which is so often overly convoluted.
Making up the team is an array of recognisable faces including Matt Dillon, Laurence Fishburne, Skeet Ulrich, Jean Reno (the odd one out in the cast if you ask me), and, in a limited role as a police officer, Milo Ventimiglia (whose most famous role is Peter in the TV show Heroes). One of the problems with the film lies not with the casting but with the characters the actors are portraying. They're very cliched and by the book, from the religious one who wonders if God will forgive him for the robbery (and the mess that ensues) to the one who desperately needs the money or the bank is going to seize his house. This makes their actions and ultimate fates a little too easy to see coming.
What's perhaps most refreshing about Amored is the fact that it favours the old standard style of in-camera and stunt shooting instead of CGI. With the amount of films employing the latter these days, it's great to see a film go in the opposite direction. It really helps to give the film a sense of realism and relatability.
The film focuses on the member of the team who is trying to stop the rest of the team stealing the money (the aforementioned one whose house is going to be seized), played with the everyman quality that the role needs by Columbus Short. To be fair, even if his money troubles storyline isn't the most original in the world, it's a well trodden one that works just fine here. It at least keeps it grounded in real life, allowing us to ask ourselves the question, "If I was in that situation, wouldn't I take the risk for the money?"
So there's nothing particularly special about Armored when it comes down to it which results in a rather forgettable and throwaway film. But that doesn't mean that while it lasts it isn't enjoyable and it delivers the type of efficient and well-oiled crime thriller you'd hope for. I have a liking for films about a team of people "pulling off a job" and Armored ticks enough of the boxes of what I expect from a film of its type.