Short Version: The good news is: If you like to walk in, sit down and enjoy an action film, then Armored is for you. The bad news is: If you’ve seen the trailer, then you can walk in 45 minutes late and not miss a thing.
Screen Rant's Paul Young reviews Armored
Every once in a while a movie comes out of nowhere that totally catches me by surprise. Black Dog, Hard Rain and Deep Rising are still three of my favorite mid-budget action flicks that got very little advertising or respect but managed to be very enjoyable in the theaters. All three also made into my DVD library - and now Armored will join them on my shelf.
There are some minor spoilers in the following review.
Nimrod Antal, the guy directing Predators, has done a very good job of making Armored fun and interesting without blowing it way over-the-top. From what I can tell, this is writer James Simpson’s first time with pen to produced script, and he has done a great job of putting together a semi-plausible plot with interesting characters. I never truly felt an emotional attachment to any of the characters but honestly, I don’t need that to enjoy every film I watch.
That’s not to say the actors in the film didn’t do a great job of bringing their roles to life. Columbus Short (Stomp the Yard) plays Ty Hackett, an ex-soldier working as a security guard on an armored truck. Ty is also raising his younger brother, Jimmy (Andre Kinney) after both of their parents passed away in the same year. The cause of their death is never really addressed but the effect is easy to see. The bank is hassling Ty for payments that is he struggling to make; Jimmy is missing school and Social Services is threatening to split the brothers up and put Jimmy in foster care.
Ty is looking for extra shifts at work but there just aren’t any to be had. That’s when his friend, co-worker, partner and godfather Mike Cochrone (Matt Dillon) comes to him with this plan to rob their own trucks. He and a handful of the guards - Quinn (Jean Reno), Baines (Laurence Fishburne), Palmer (Amaury Nolasco) and Dobbs (Skeet Ulrich), have decided to recreate an armored truck heist from 1988 where as Cochrone puts it, “There are no bad guys.”
They will pick up $42 million dollars in two trucks, go stash it somewhere, report that they have been robbed, then come back and collect their bounty – easy peasy, lemon squeezy. Well the first part of the plan goes off well, and they end up with the money and manage to stash half and that’s when the manure hits the whirling blades.
They discover a homeless man sleeping in the abandoned warehouse where they are hiding and Baines, who is the trigger-happy/least-smart one of the bunch, hauls off and shoots the guy. Ty, who is already having doubts about the whole caper, doesn’t want blood on his hands and tries to help the homeless man who isn’t quite dead. That comes to an abrupt end via Cochrone’s pistol and Ty runs for the safety of the truck with the others in pursuit. He tries to radio for help but the signal is weak, so he tries to drive away.
What ensues is a very unique take on the requisite car chase and could quite possibly be the best car chase this year. Now, it isn’t as good as good as the car chases in Ronin, Bourne Identity or Transporter, but this is the first time I can recall seeing two armored trucks chasing each other.
After pulling a NASCAR-type maneuver (read: driving in a circle), they end up back where they started and Ty is trapped in the truck with seemingly no way out. He tries the siren which is soon disabled but not before catching the attention of Officer Eckehart (Milo Ventimiglia). One thing leads to another and Eckehart soon ends up shot in the gut and lying in the back of the truck with Ty (this was actually shown in the trailer, so I don't think you can call it a real spoiler). From there, things continue to break down within the group as tensions rise until the story reaches its action packed climax.
Overall, Simpson has written a great story but that’s not to say the plot doesn’t have some holes in it I would have liked to have seen filled. A few of the characters in the story are driven by attitudes or personalities that don’t match what we’ve learned about them. There are a couple of military bashing comments that got under my skin but they are fleeting. Some of the story elements don’t make too much sense, for example – the warehouse where they are hiding the money is near were Ty and Cochrone live. That doesn’t make much sense but it could have been a shooting location issue as opposed to a story issue.
Bottom line, if you are in the market for a enjoyable action film where you can just enjoy the movie without a lot of nitpicking or over-thinking, then you could do worse the Armored.