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'Armored' about more than just the heist

Date: 3/22/2010

March 22, 2010

By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor

I just had time to watch one film this week, but I picked a good one and it's the feature of this week's DVD review column.


I saw the trailer for this film in theaters and unfortunately "Armored" didn't last too long in theatrical release. That's a shame as it is a solid, entertaining film.

The "heist" or "caper" film is an honorable genre we don't see too much of today. The films fall generally into one of two categories: the successful heists and the unsuccessful ones. "Armored" falls into the latter.

Columbus Short plays Ty, a decorated Marine Corps vet who has come back from Iraq to face a bleak future. His parents have both died, leaving him with unpaid medical bills and two mortgages on his house, as well as guardianship of his teenaged brothers.

Luckily for Ty he has his godfather Mike (Matt Dillon) looking out for him. He's secured Ty a job with the armored car company where he works. All seems well until Ty takes a walk with Mike and learns Mike has a robbery of $42 million planned.

Initially rejecting participating, the threat of seeing his brother Jimmy taken by state officials and put into foster care pushes Ty into joining the group of guards planning the robbery.

The focus of some heist films is in the planning and execution of the crime. In "Armored" the drama is generated as the crime is being committed and a witness sees where the millions are being hidden.

Although newcomer Columbus Short shines in the pivotal role of Ty, "Armored" is really an ensemble picture. Dillon does a great job as the benevolent guy with something dark on his mind, while Laurence Fishburne grabs our attention as Baines, the out-of-control guy who compromises the plan. Fishburne certainly will show those only familiar with his role on "CSI" his great range as an actor.

The rest of the cast - Jean Reno, Skeet Ulrich and Amaury Nolasso - fit together perfectly.

James Simpson's script reminded me of the kind of film Warner Brothers would produce in the early 1930s - films that would be described as "torn from today's headlines." The film's references to what awaits vets in today's economy are very timely.

I've not seen either of director Nimrod Antal's other two features, "Kontrol" and "Vacancy," but he is clearly a guy who knows how to make an action film with its feet firmly planted on the ground. I liked how he built slowly to the robbery, allowing us to get to know the characters and then changed gears for the action sequences, which were top-notch.

The DVD has the standard "making of" feature, which is fairly informative.

Antal is working on a new sequel to the 1987 action/science fiction film "Predator," called "Predators." The film is being produced by Robert Rodriguez and, based on both men's work, I'm eager to see that film when it comes out.