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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

Armored (review)

Can someone pul-eeze give Nimród Antal a decent script to direct? Since he returned from his ancestral Hungary — he moved to Budapest at 17 after having grown up in Los Angeles; there, he made the brilliant and unclassifiable Kontroll — he’s been the poster boy for intriguing talent getting squashed down and washed out by Hollywood. His thriller Vacancy was vaguely Hitchcockian enough to be mildly diverting, but this, his second studio film, is simply inscrutable… and not in a good way. Skeletal in its characters and its plot, this tale of a band of armored-car guards who decide to steal the truckload of $42 million in cash they’re supposed to be protecting can’t decide what it wants to be. Eschewing the mechanics of the job that most similar heist movie indulge in, the half-done script — by newcomer James V. Simpson — is missing most of a third act and all of the characterization required by even the most mainstream of action crime dramas, especially one that is not interested in letting us in on the logistical details. It seems like stealing $42 million shouldn’t be this easy — surely armored car companies have procedures in place to counter the obvious temptations of their employees — but that’s a minor issue compared to how all the veteran guards (played by an appealing cadre of names including Matt Dillon [Nothing But the Truth], Laurence Fishburne [21], Jean Reno [Couples Retreat], and Skeet Ulrich [Jericho]) don’t hesitate to jump right to the very worst things they could do when their situation goes south, even though we’re meant to see them as regular guys who’ve been pushed into a corner, not violent, hardened criminals who enjoy this sort of thing. And assuming our fondness for the newbie guard with a conscience (the likeable Columbus Short: Whiteout) is enough to carry us through is a mistake. It’s all ridiculously implausible: not the robbery, but the men carrying it out.

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watch at home

MPAA: rated PG-13 for sequences of intense violence, some disturbing images and brief strong language

viewed at a private screening with an audience of critics

official site | IMDb | trailer
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