PLOT: A rookie armored car guard (Columbus Short), is pitted against his colleagues (Matt Dillon, Lawrence Fishburne, Jean Reno, Skeet Ulrich, & Amaury Nolasco), when a heist the crew plans goes wrong.
REVIEW: ARMORED is yet another Screen Gems production thatís not screening for critics. I donít really get this whole practice. Sure, ARMOREDís no Oscar winner, or even a particularly good film, but itís a decent enough potboiler that it probably wonít get savaged by the press- and hiding the film until opening day gives the film some baggage it doesnít really deserve.
The way I see it, there are two really intriguing things about ARMORED. One is the director, Nimrod Antal, whoís currently helming the new Robert Rodriguez-produced PREDATORS. Hardcore action fans are hoping heíll hit a home run, and save this franchise thatís been run into the ground by the two awful ALIEN VS. PREDATOR movies- and ARMORED is supposedly the film that helped get him the gig. While I canít really say ARMORED is a phenomenally crafted film, its slick enough that Antal should do a fine job on PREDATORS, providing the cast and script are up to par. While ARMORED is strictly B-movie territory, Iíve heard enough great things about Antalís KONTROLL, that I have high hopesÖ
The other noteworthy thing about ARMORED is the cast. Dillon, Reno, Fishburne, heck- even Remo Williams himself, Fred Ward has a role. All acquit themselves nicely, although Reno, and Ward are essentially playing bit parts (Reno needs to go back to France, where directors like Olivier Marchal are making cool cop flicks that cry out for a hero like Reno). Dillon makes a credible villain, although it felt at times like he was basically playing a more sinister version of his character from CRASH. Skeet Ulrich and Amaury Nolasco (from PRISON BREAK), round out the crew of villains, and both do fine work.
Despite all the star power, the real lead of the film is up and coming actor Columbus Short. I had never heard of Short until renting CADILLAC RECORDS a few months ago and his performance in that film (as drug addled RníB legend Little Walter) completely blew me away. In ARMORED he has a much more two dimensional role, but he makes a credible action hero, and gives a little more gravitas to the part than another, less talented actor might have given it.
Great cast aside, ARMORED is a pretty standard action-thriller, and youíll know exactly where itís going right from the get go. There are very few thrills, and the two action scenes (both truck chases) are pretty generic. Another big problem I had was the musical score, by the usually excellent John Murphy. The score leans heavily on the Massive Attack track, Angel- but hereís the strange thing. Itís not credited at the end of the film, and itís been mixed down enough so that the studio probably didnít have to pay the music rights, but anyone who knows the song will recognize it immediately as all the beats are the same. I hate the fact that they ripped off Massive Attack, and I expect a lot more originality out of someone as talented as Murphy (although he may not be to blame).
Overall, ARMORED is a perfectly passable action-thriller, although hardly exceptional. I suppose itís worth seeing if you like your action-thrillers, but donít go in expecting anything extraordinary. Itís too bad that itís such an ordinary film, as there was enough talent involved that it could have been something special.
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