Review: Armored

armored one sheet
Ever wonder what kind of guy drives an armored car full of thousands – if not millions – of dollars worth of cash, securities, checks, credit card transaction receipts, etc?  Yeah, I never did either, but that’s the environment that Armored presents us with: a bunch of edgy, tough-guy losers who somehow have ended up as employees of Eagle Shield Security.

Chief tough guy is Baines (Lawrence Fishburn), whose first on-screen scene has him lovingly gazing at a rifle and saying “that’s what I’m talking about, M4-Vanilly Scattergun. State of the art, BLAM!” and pretending to shoot one of his colleagues. The main characters in the film are Mike Cochrone (Matt Dillon), and Ty (Columbus Short), who is new on the job and learning the ropes.
Ty, it becomes somewhat clear, is the son of a guy who was part of Eagle Shield Security, and he’s in financial straits ever since returning from a stint in the military. Without any warning or lead in, Cochrone turns to Ty in an early scene and says “We’re not going to let the bank take your house. We’ll think of something.”
What we have is a poorly plotted rehash of Training Day or any of a thousand other cop movies, but this time with armored car drivers. It has all the attitude, poorly lit scenes with gritty settings, moody music and tough-guy camaraderie of the genre, even to the obligatory serious tough-guys-bonding toast by Cochrone to his partners in a blue-collar bar.  I like the genre, but found Armored tedious, predictable and highly unengaging. 

Film opens with the armored truck Cochrone’s in suddenly stalling in the middle of nowhere (do armored trucks drive down abandoned roads?) just to have a black van pull up behind and affix a bomb to the back window. Baines, who was boasting about his new weapon and wanting to have a chance to use it, doesn’t respond at all, and Ty gets quite anxious but still remains cool under pressure. Except it’s a setup (as revealed in the trailer, so no, this isn’t a spoiler), though confusingly, the two guys driving the trailing van, who are presumably also members of Eagle Shield Security don’t join in the laughter and good-natured teasing once the joke is revealed.
Even more confusingly – but typical of the ragged script of Armored – in the previous scene the boss Duncan Ashcroft (Fred Ward in a throwaway role) has explained to the crew that “All new trucks will be equipped with GPS and this is mandatory training” Wait a second. What year was this film made? Every money truck in the US already has redundant positioning systems, built-in alarms, and more, because the cost of equipping them is far less than even a single heist. But that troubling little fact would ruin the entire movie so it’s ignored.

armored publicity still

The obligatory “briefing” scene from the clunker Armored

The dialog is banal and rife with cliches. Typical dialog: Baines asking Ty in the bar: “Not everyone’s a hero, soldier boy. What are you going to tell us about all those kills you got in Baghdad?” Ty’s response: “I’m going to take a leak”  Not enough to convince you?  When Ashcroft finishes his morning briefing, he says “Alright, keep your eyes open out there” and the tough guys all dutifully parrot his words. Apparently that’s become a staple of cop movies now?
In case you didn’t think that there was sufficient motivation for Ty to get involved with the heist, an unsympathetic white child welfare agent (Lorna Raver) shows up and explains to him that his younger brother James (Andre Kinney) has missed lots of school, had a few brushes with the law, and that The State is considering putting him into foster care. 
They cook up some goofy heist idea when the truck will be carrying $42mil in cash, and in a pivotal scene, Cochrone explains to Ty that the spoof attack of the previous week that opened the film was “a test run”.  “We stash the money and tell ’em we got jacked.” “Are you crazy? The cops are going to be all over us!” “Forget about the cops, we have a rock-solid alibi. It’s clean, there are no bad guys, no-one’s going to get hurt.”
This was one of the worst films I’ve seen in the last year and it was tempting to just walk out by the halfway point. There are massive, gaping plot holes and a complete inability to track logical storyline elements. You might enjoy it if you’re a big fan of tough-guy films, but there are plenty of DVD rentals you can choose instead. My advice? Just skip this clunker.

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