Monday, April 12, 2010

Movie: Armored

This one's for you, Ryan.

I picked up Armored on a whim, because it seemed like a pretty simple movie to just relax and enjoy. About the only thing I knew was from watching the trailer, and it appears that it does a good job of promoting the movie's plot. I haven't seen Matt Dillon in anything for a while, but Laurence Fishburne and Jean Reno had supporting roles, so how bad can it be?

In Armored, former soldier and Silver Star-earning Ty Hackett has caught on with Eagle Shield armored trucks as a probationary officer after returning home. Amongst the men he works with on a daily basis are his godfather, Mike Cochrane (Dillon), Cochrane's brother-in-law Baines (Fishburne), and a few other guys. Apparently these six work in tandem at all times. Hackett has a younger brother who he now takes care of on account of their parents dying, and times are tough for the family. The bank wants to take their house, and there doesn't seem to be anything they can do about it.

Cochrane, the leader of this pack, tells a story about an armored car carrying $4 million that was hijacked some time ago, and how the money nor the thieves were ever found. His theory - there was no hijack, and the security guards hid the money and made up the story. As he says, they only did one thing wrong: "they didn't take enough." As their trucks are coming up due for GPS installations and it's the beginning of a new cycle of bank pickups that will run in the tens of millions, Cochrane wants to "jack" the $42 million load they will be carrying, and all that's left is to convince Ty that it's the smart move. After Ty hears the plan, turns Cochrane down, and walks home, he finds that CPS is looking into his situation and wants to take his brother away. Cue motivation for stealing a whole pile of money.

The guys take the trucks to an abandoned warehouse and start offloading the money. Ty remains conflicted about the plan, and when Baines shoots a hobo that was sleeping upstairs, he barricades himself in one of the trucks and tries to figure out a way to avoid the same fate. The remainder of the movie focuses on the remaining guards trying to break into that truck, and how Ty will deal with being the target of their wrath.

This movie sucked. The blame falls completely on the writer, though. It makes me simultaneously sad and happy that a script like this can get made, because it has no redeeming value. It feels like it was bought based on a pitch, and once the final product was done, it was too late to go back. The concept sounds cool - heists are always fun, and armored cars seem like a good approach. The execution is simply flawed from the beginning. Half of the characters are devoid of background, motivation, or personality. I'm really curious how much Reno and Fishburne were paid for this, because their parts combined account for maybe 4 minutes of dialog.

Dillon's Cochrane character spends the beginning of the movie preaching about family and how much he wants to help Ty and his brother, but when push comes to shove, it's all about the money. A more appropriate title for this movie would have been "$42 million changes a man". The only character in the movie, Ty, who has any described motivation for the heist is the only character who doesn't really want to do it. Why do the other five go along with the plan? There is never any indication at all, so we are left to assume that they are all just money-grubbing criminals who will do anything to get rich, including the Bible-carrying praying man, Palmer. Fishburne's character, Baines, somehow got a job as an armored truck guard despite him being a lunatic. His response to any adversity is to just shoot it; why this is, we are never told. This doesn't make him mysterious, or creepy, or anything else - it's just confusing.

The plan itself is laughably simple; hide $42 million, then make up a story about how you were jacked by robbers? Did they really think that there wouldn't be a massive investigation into an amount that big? That every member of the group was so solidly in that they wouldn't crack under the strain? It boggles the mind to think that anyone would conceive of a plan like that and call it good.

Jean Reno, what were you doing in this movie? You certainly weren't doing any talking, or laughing, or pretty much anything except sitting down and occasionally walking. With a cast like this, and a crew this big, there was so much potential for interesting characters, but it's completely unrealized. The best part of the movie is the music, which may be of a type I don't normally care much about, seems to work fairly well within the context of the events.

They could have gone so many more directions with this - a real jacking that screws up the plan; a Reservoir Dogs-like situation; a hostage situation. Instead, we get 2 armored trucks carrying boatloads of money, out of communication with home base for an hour (standard protocol??), with floor tiles that can be pried up by one person and apparently standard issue shotguns for the real nutjobs on staff. Such a mess. Skip this if you value your sanity.

Coming soon: a review of a movie I actually liked!

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