In terms of being a throwaway action-oriented programmer, Armored settles into a B-movie groove quite nicely. The barely topical story of a young war vet (Columbus Short) who, returning home to few prospects and family commitments he can hardly afford to keep, joins an armored car crew (featuring Matt Dillon, Laurence Fishburne and Jean Reno) intent on stealing a big haul ($42 million) doesn’t get too bogged down in specifics and rolls along towards its unsurprising (yet adequate) finish.
Director Nimrod Antal (Vancancy) mixes in glancing references to Quentin Tarantino’s Reservior Dogs and even David Fincher’s Panic Room for audiences with more active imaginations, but he’s not exactly concerned with being too clever or all that technical in his execution.
He might have wasted an opportunity, though, because it could be argued that we have passed through the trend of hip neo-noir and twisty, urban-gangster shoot-’em-ups — it might be time to revist the scene from a new, less cynical perspective.
As Vancancy proved, Antal knows a thing or two about reworking tired genre exercises and finding a little fresh breath to sustain a workout. Next time maybe he will bring more grit and effort and trust emerging talent like Short who, after his feverish turn in Cadillac Records, just might be on the verge of battling for a spot among second-tier box-office gladiators. Grade: C-
Opens Dec. 4. Check out theaters and show times, see more photos from the film and get theater details here.