‘Armored’: Terrible tough guys


Ever wonder what kind of guy drives an armored car full of cash? Yeah, I never did either, but that’s the environment that Armored presents us with: a bunch of edgy, tough-guy losers who somehow have ended up as employees of Eagle Shield Security.

Chief tough guy is Baines (Laurence Fishburne), whose first on-screen scene has him lovingly gazing at a rifle and saying “that’s what I’m talking about, M4-Vanilly Scattergun. State of the art, BLAM!” and pretending to shoot one of his colleagues. The main characters in the film are Mike Cochrone (Matt Dillon) and Ty (Columbus Short), the latter of whom is new on the job.

Ty’s Dad was part of Eagle Shield Security and he’s in financial straits ever since returning from Afghanistan. Cochrone turns to Ty in an early scene and says, “We’re not going to let the bank take your house. We’ll think of something.”

The film starts with the armored truck Cochrone’s in stalling in the middle of nowhere (do armored trucks drive down abandoned roads?) just to have a black van pull up and its occupants stick a bomb on the back. Surprise, it’s a setup (as stupidly revealed in the trailer).

In the previous scene the boss, Duncan Ashcroft (Fred Ward in a throwaway role), has explained to the crew that, “All new trucks will be equipped with GPS.” What year was this film made? Every money truck in the U.S. already has redundant positioning systems, built-in alarms and more, because the cost of equipping them is far less than even a single heist. But that troubling little fact would ruin the entire movie, particularly later when they spend a stationary hour during the heist, so it’s ignored.

The dialogue is painful and rife with clichés. A typical exchange: Baines asking Ty in the bar: “Not everyone’s a hero, soldier boy. What are you going to tell us about all those kills you got in Baghdad?” Ty’s response: “I’m going to take a leak.” Then when Ashcroft finishes his morning briefing, he says, “Alright, keep your eyes open out there,” and the tough guys all dutifully parrot his words.

In case you didn’t think that potentially losing his dump of an apartment was sufficient motivation for Ty to get involved, an unsympathetic, bitter child welfare agent (Lorna Raver) explains to him in an early scene that his younger brother James (Andre Kinney) has missed lots of school and had a few brushes with the law, and that the state may put him into foster care. Cue dramatic music.

The Eagle Shield boys cook up a goofy heist when they learn their trucks will be carrying $42 million in cash, and in a pivotal scene, Cochrone explains to Ty that the spoof attack of the previous week that opened the film was “a test run.” “We stash the money and tell ‘em we got jacked.” “Are you crazy? The cops are going to be all over us!” “Forget about the cops, we have a rock-solid alibi. It’s clean, there are no bad guys, no one’s going to get hurt.”

Ugh. This was one of the worst films I’ve seen in the last year and it was tempting to just walk out. There are massive, gaping plot holes. You might enjoy it if you’re a fan of tough-guy films, but there are plenty of good DVD rentals you can choose instead, like The Usual Suspects. My advice? Just skip this clunker.