[Screen It]

(2009) (Columbus Short, Matt Dillon) (PG-13)

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Action: A team of armored-car guards decides to stage a $42 million heist, but one member has second thoughts.
Ty Hackett (COLUMBUS SHORT) is an Iraqi War veteran, who has recently returned to the States following the death of his parents to raise his younger brother, Jimmy (ANDRE KINNEY). He follows in his father's footsteps by taking a job as an armored car guard where he is friends with fellow guard and Jimmy's godfather, Mike Cochrane (MATT DILLON).

Ty is soon pressured by Mike and his team - which includes hothead Baines (LAURENCE FISHBURNE), European Quinn (Jean Reno), family man Dobbs (SKEET ULRICH), and tough guy Palmer (AMAURY NOLASCO) - to take part in a $42 million heist. Their plan is to stash the cash in an abandoned warehouse and fake that it was a team of armed carjackers who made off with the money.

Things go wrong when they are observed by a stray homeless man (NICK JAMESON), who Mike and Baines shoot and kill. Ty, who was promised that no one would get hurt, tries to flee but is forced to hole himself up in one of the armored cars full of cash. Minutes later, a cop named Eckehart (MILO VENTIMIGLIA) shows up to investigate a disturbance and is promptly shot by Baines.

The film then becomes a race against time, as the five crooked crew members try and gain access to Ty and Eckehart in the armored car (Ty has carried the wounded man into the vehicle after creating a diversion) all while aware of a 58-minute time window in which they will have to report back to headquarters.

OUR TAKE: 5.5 out of 10
The potential was there for "Armored" to be an almost Hitchcockian-like thriller. The premise was simple, but alluring. A blue-collar crew of armored-car guards is tired of being poor. Each and every day, they handle tens of thousands of dollars in cash, transporting the money from one location to another.

So, why not stage a heist and blame the theft on some phantom robbers that don't even exist? No one would get hurt, right? They'll store the $42 million in cash for a time at an old abandoned factory and then divide it up after all of the investigations are over.

But when storing the money, they discover a homeless man has been watching the whole time. When one of the crew freaks out and shoots the guy, the most honorable of the six takes refuge inside one of the two armored cars - the one full of cash - and vows to escape. The others can't allow this to happen and begin pounding the metal hinges of the car's back door to try and get him out all while a clock ticks down as to the next time they are to report back to base via radio.

The problem with "Armored" is that it is too lazy in setting up its premise. There is not a single scene where the characters discuss strategy or lay out their plan. It doesn't help either that the crew members are almost uniformly one-note caricatures. Ty (Columbus Short) is the honest guard, Mike (Matt Dillon) is the manipulative leader, Baines (Laurence Fishburne) is the hothead, Quinn (Jean Reno) is the older guard, Palmer (Amaury Nolasco) is the muscle, and Dobbs (Skeet Ulrich) is the conflicted family man.

The script practically writes itself from there. In fact, I am not entirely uncertain that the producers just didn't plug this premise into some kind of screenwriting computer program, which then spat back this screenplay moments later.

The film is reasonably well directed and paced. It does hold interest due to its premise and the charisma of Short, Dillon and Fishburne. But this is a video rental at best on a rainy weeknight. It rates a 5.5 out of 10. (T. Durgin)

Reviewed December 4, 2009 / Posted December 4, 2009

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