Armored starts off as a somewhat promising deviation from the standard heist movie and then quickly degenerates into formulaic action fare. The plot revolves around a team of armored truck guards led by Matt Dillion. They decide that, on a day when they're transporting an unusually large amount of money, they're going to stage a hijacking and take the money for themselves. Things don't go according to plan, because if they did, it would make for a really boring movie. Unfortunately, it's still a predictable, boring movie.
Ty is the newest addition to the team, but he's no stranger. His father worked security with the same group while Ty was off fighting for our country in the Middle East. His parents' untimely death left him as the sole guardian to his little brother Jimmy, allowing him early release from his tour. So he comes home from the war to take care of his truant, trouble making littler brother and work his dad's old low-paying job, all while trying to make payments on a house that's in danger of getting taken by the bank. Do you feel sorry for him yet? By the time the lady from child welfare showed up and threatened to put Jimmy in foster care, I started feeling sorry for myself.
Uninspired characterization aside, Armored has two pretty solid ideas at its core. The story begins with our tight-knit group of guards (Matt Dillion, Laurence Fishburne, Jean Reno, Skeet Ulrich, Amaury Nolasco, and Columbus Short) planning a heist. On a day where they have to transport 42 million dollars of Federal Reserve money, they plan to stash the money in a safe location and then fake a robbery, allowing them to ultimately split the cash between themselves.
Ty, being the "relatable" character, acts as the voice of reason. He's slow to come around to the plan, but the aforementioned visit from child welfare makes him desperate. But before he fully commits, he lays down one stipulation: "no one gets hurt." This of course means that somebody is going to get badly hurt or killed. Sure enough, complications arise, and Ty ends up locking himself in one of the armored trucks in fear for his life. The team only has 40 or so minutes before they have to check in, so it becomes a race to get Ty out of the locked vehicle, which gives the movie a real Panic Room vibe. Unfortunately, what started out as a neat idea goes to waste.
With Ty trapped in the claustrophobic truck and the team working hard to pry him out, we aren't nearly as terrified as we should be. So much more could've been done, but the situation is left largely unexplored. But what's going on inside the truck isn't nearly as bad as what's happening outside. What little characterization the plot had is promptly thrown under the tires. Matt Dillion's character is Ty's Godfather, and it's well-established earlier in the movie how much love is there, but he seems to be the first out for Ty's blood. Amaury Nolasco's Palmer is a newly-reborn man of God, but why bother showing his newfound faith if he's really just as despicable as the rest? The remaining guards are just as bad, despite whatever humanity they displayed earlier. At this point, they're all just one-note, money-hungry thieves. There might be some subtext here about what money does to a man, but the characters seem to go out of their way to perform evil acts, so greed can't be the only underlying problem.
Armored starts off very promising and turns into a generic thriller. And not only is it generic, it's dumb, going through the motions without ever pausing for logic. Considering the talent involved, it's a big disappointment. If you're looking for forced tension, you'll find it here, but you'll also find it any other movie out there, giving you little reason to watch this one.
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