December 10, 2009

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Armored (PG-13)
Armored car drivers plan the perfect crime and then watch it crumble apart in Armored, a movie that features not one but two explosions involving big piles of cash.

Mike (Matt Dillon) and Baines (Laurence Fishburne) are the instigators of the plot to steal millions of dollars. The plan is that two armored cars — filled with cash on a particularly busy day — will be “robbed” and forced to hand over money in exchange for the safety of one of their men. Except there will be no robbery and instead the money will be stashed for a time when — after the police attention dies down — they can live the life they please as very rich men. Ty Hackett (Columbus Short) is new to the crew and not a fan of the thievery. But after a threatened bank foreclosure puts his ability to care for his teenage brother (Andre Kinney) in doubt, he decides to go along with the plan. Promise me nobody will get hurt, Ty — a recent veteran of Iraq — says to Mike. Nobody will get hurt, Mike says foreshadowingly.

Naturally, people getting hurt starts almost right away and quickly escalates to a level Ty finds unacceptable. He turns on his fellow robbers and spends the rest of the movie shimmying under cars, blowing stuff up, getting shot at, playing armored-vehicle bumper cars and otherwise working up a sweat to right the wrong.

Armored has its moments of bad acting — most entertainingly from Fishburne and Dillon, bad dialogue, ridiculous plot holes (those trucks are just now getting GPS?), improbable stunts and nifty action. But it doesn’t have enough of these moments and it doesn’t string them together with the sense of playfulness that you need to make an all-adrenaline action movie like this really sing. The bloody and self-serious Ninja Assassin, the giddy man-fights-back movies from John Cena, even the nonsensical vengeancefest of Law Abiding Citizen — these are not great movies but they can be fun to watch. They have a kind of joy-filled, all-singing-all-dancing, jazz-hands approach to their action. Armored seemed to want that, seemed to be heading in that direction but just couldn’t quite deliver. C

Rated PG-13 for sequences of intense violence, some disturbing images and brief strong language. Directed by Nimrod Antal and written by James V. Simpson, Armored is an hour and 25 minutes long and is distributed by Screen Gems.