Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Armored

When I was looking into the actors in Armored, I came to a realization: Matt Dillon is not in good movies.  Sure, I laughed at There's Something About Mary when I was stupid and in high school, but that shouldn't be his career highlight.  Considering that the lead roles in this film are split between Dillon and Columbus Short, who is more famous for dancing than acting, Armored might not be a great film.

After being awarded the Silver Star for his service in the War on Terror, Ty (Columbus Short) has been having a rough time back home.  With his parents gone, Ty is the sole guardian of his brother Jimmy (Andre Kinney).  To make ends meet, Ty has taken on a job as a security guard for armored cars.  He's second-generation in his job; the rest of his co-workers remember his father fondly, particularly his godfather, Mike (Matt Dillon).  After work one day, the guards head to a bar to unwind and talk a bit about some of the more famous armored car robberies; afterward, Mike tells Ty that the whole crew is going to rob their own armored car and split the money, which amounts to $7 million each.  At first, he's reluctant, but when social services threaten to take Jimmy away, Ty agrees to help, as long as nobody gets hurt.  Well, guess what?  People get hurt.  Ty won't stand for that, so he fights back against the other five guards.

I won't say that the acting was great in this movie, but it wasn't terrible.  In the lead role, Columbus Short did much better than any professional dancer should be expected to do in a feature film.  No, he wasn't amazing, but he was halfway decent, at long as he wasn't supposed to convey feelings.  Matt Dillon was...well, Matt Dillon.  Nothing new there.  The other veteran actors were not particularly impressive, either.  Skeet Ulrich and Jean Reno just showed up long enough to cash a paycheck.   Amaury Nolasco, who I normally despise, surprised me by playing a character with at least a little depth, but that came to naught when his character unexpectedly committed suicide...I assume.  They never showed the body, which suggests that the budget wasn't very high for this movie.  Laurence Fishburne normally adds a little bit of class to the movies he is in, but here, he plays a violent dimwit.  It's a surprisingly dull role for him, but he was in Biker Boyz, so I probably shouldn't be surprised.
Hello?  Is my dignity there?  Well, can I leave a message?
As for young Andre Kinney, I suppose his not-terribly-intelligent and graffiti-loving role here is a step up from his recurring role on Hannah Montana, but he is still several blocks away from being a real actor.  Milo Ventimiglia also makes an appearance as a police officer, but he gets shot pretty early on, resulting in him talking with a funny voice; I don't think I've seen him in a movie without a weird voice, so I'm still not sure if he can act in feature films.


Mediocre acting does not necessarily doom a film (Avatar, anyone?), but mediocre direction doesn't help, either.  Nimrod Antal is a capable action director, I will admit.  I was able to follow the plot, too, which shows that he has the rudimentary skills to tell a story.  As for directing actors to actually act...well, I don't see any proof of that here.  The dramatic scenes aren't bad, but they aren't very natural, especially between Short and...well, anyone.  Take, for instance, the scene where Short comes home to find Kinney spray painting an owl --- and owl! --- on their kitchen wall.  Instead of them butting heads like a surly teen and an overwhelmed sibling, it plays out like this:
Short: Why'd you paint an owl in our kitchen?  That's where we cook!  I mean, when we cook.  Well, where we're supposed to cook, anyway.
Kinney: I dunno.
Short: What?  I forgot what we were talking about.  Have some McDonald's.
I'm not saying that these actors had a lot to work with, but they sure didn't take advantage of the opportunities they had.

The primary obstacle to this movie's success is the story, which was written by a first-time screenwriter.  Aside from some pretty cliche action moments, I have to wonder just how much thought went into the construction of the armored cars in this movie.  You would think that a real armored car that transfers cash would be pretty secure, right?  Well, not according to Armored.  There are all sorts of ways to mess with these vehicles in the movie.  The alarm is easily disabled without alerting the company base.  They are not on a particular time table, even after picking up money.  The floor of the truck has a thin floorboard that can be disassembled with basic tools.  Sure, the bad guys eventually do the logical thing and go after the door hinges, but those are some suspiciously large hinges for a secure vehicle.  Okay, fine.  Let's say that the armored car problems make sense, or the movie is entertaining enough for that not to not matter.  There is no climax.  None.  There are explosions, and we assume characters die.  Then Matt Dillon shows up and there's a minor showdown, but nothing huge.  I kept expecting another character (Larry Fishburne, I'm looking at you) to show up, partially charbroiled and ready to kill, but the movie just...ends.  Boo!

This movie wasn't incompetent.  It wasn't terrible.  It was mediocre with a bad story.  Its only accomplishment was being a heist movie that I didn't like.
Interesting side note: a Google image search of "Columbus Short glove" comes up with this image.  Why?  I'm so very confused...

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