Armored -- Film Review

The tough-guy mugs of Matt Dillon, Jean Reno, Laurence Fishburne and Fred Ward aren't the only familiar aspects of "Armored," an old-school heist movie that doesn't exactly reinvent the genre.

But for a while there, it nonetheless threatens to get the job done thanks to an approach that forgoes multiple camera angles and flashy cutting in favor of good old-fashioned character motivation and sturdy performances.

At least that's until plot improbabilities begin to mount as high as an escalating body count, ending with a whimper of a disappointingly slack payoff.

Dropped in the middle of a crowded holiday season, the Screen Gems release will unlikely generate a significant boxoffice haul.

Directed by Nimrod Antal from a first script by James V. Simpson, "Armored" effectively sets up the fraternal rapport between Eagle Shield Security's armored-truck guards, especially those who have been around the block a few times including officer Cochrane (Dillon), the quiet Quinn (Reno) and the impulsive Baines (Fishburne).

They have high hopes for Hackett (Columbus Short), a decorated Iraq War vet struggling to raise his 14-year-old brother on his own following the deaths of their parents.

But when it turns out those expectations have to do with Hackett's going along with a staged "victimless" armored-car robbery that would net the guys a cool $42 million, his moral compass conscience ends up complicating an increasingly messy situation.

Unfortunately, that would-be perfect heist isn't the only thing that goes terribly awry in "Armored."

Although Antal ("Vacancy," "Kontroll") exerts a firm control over the film's neatly- calibrated setup and character relationships, the "last man standing" construction of Simpson's script succeeds in reducing the proceedings to a flimsy shell of action-movie cliches.

Not to mention the assorted plotting conveniences.

Although Ward, as the outfit's assigning officer, announces that their vehicles will soon be equipped with GPS, one wonders why a technology utilized by pizza-delivery drivers is still yet to be installed by guys trusted with millions from the Federal Reserve.

Still, it's good to see Ward, along with such old pros as Dillon, Reno and Fishburne, showing the younger guys how to make potentially shop-worn material their own, while early Tarantino collaborator, cinematographer Andrzej Sekula, lends the visuals that ideal "Reservoir Dogs" grit.

Opened: Friday, Dec. 4 (Screen Gems)
Production companies: Stars Road Entertainment, Farah Films
Rating: PG-13, 85 minutes
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