Any fan of crime movies is well versed in the high-stakes-heist-gone-awry story. Heat did it best and The Score was pretty good, too. Strangely, the aptly titled The Heist was the most mediocre of the bunch. I could go on with titles, including The Pink Panther and The Great Muppet Caper, but I won’t.
Armored is more of a hardcore action film like Heat because it focuses on gritty violence but in more of a film noir genre. Columbus Short plays Ty, a guy in need of a little cash and just starting a new job as security transport with an armored truck company. On his first day he gets invited by the other guards to help out with a bank job to bring in $42 million for the crew. They’ll make it look like someone else robbed them. He says that he’ll do it if no one gets hurt.
Desperation makes some people do stupid things but Ty gets smart when Mike (Matt Dillon) and Baines (Laurence Fishburne) break the plan. Locking himself in one of the armored trucks, time runs out for the others and the tension builds up nicely to a fine, yet punchy crescendo. Ty is one of those MacGyver kind of guys and he puts his Swiss army knife skills to all kinds of use in this clever story.
This is not a feel-good Christmas movie, but it sure is satisfying. There is plenty of violence involving knives, bombs, guns and other nastiness but it’s no more bloody than the other heist stories. Antal has been honing his directorship skills since his breakthrough with Kontroll five years ago. Perhaps Vacancy was a miss, just like this one won’t really reach an audience, but certainly he’s got a lot going for his next project in 2010. I don’t know about anybody else but I have stellar expectations for Predators, the newest sequel in the ever-extending series about alien hunters on Earth.
The cast of character actors all played their roles just fine but, honestly, I wish Reno, Dillon and Fishburne would get more credit and maybe some better parts too. These are the guys who will forever live in my mind in their cult classics The Professional, Drugstore Cowboy and Event Horizon, among many, many other better and more unique features.
Still, this one does the trick. If you’re hungry and don’t want to spend the time preparing something different for supper, you have a hot dog. Armored, for lack of a better analogy, is a hot dog.
Directed by: NimrĂłd Antal<br />Starring: Matt Dillon, Laurence Fishburne, Jean Reno, Amaury Nolasco, Fred Ward, Skeet Ulrich, and Columbus Short<br />Now playing at: North Edmonton Cineplex and Scotiabank Theatre<br />Rated: 14A<br />Stars: 3.5