A relatively unheard of casting, mixed with the occasional golden nugget cameo; a lack of a female cast; and a plot involving a money heist. This is seemingly the set up for a nonsensical action movie that I had intended to watch as a guilty pleasure, akin to movies such as S.W.A.T. and xXx. This didn’t turn out to be the case. Instead, what I found was an actual attempt at a convincing plot and real characterization. Attempts at such a thing are usually haphazard, and half-hearted, and overall disappointing. However, Armored succeeds where past movies have failed. The movie is set up properly with coherent pacing as it introduces us to the main characters of Ty Hackett and Mike Cochran, played by Columbus Short and Matt Dillon, respectively.
A crew of officers at an armored transport security firm risk their lives when they embark on the ultimate heist against their own company. Armed with a seemingly fool-proof plan, the men plan on making off with a fortune with harm to none. But when an unexpected witness interferes, the plan quickly unravels and all bets are off.
The brotherly bond between the two main characters is presented to us in a proper fashion and never feels contrived or tacked on, which was the first surprising part of this movie. From there, the seemingly shallow plot is eased into with a manner that even gets you encouraging the main character to be involved, instead of shaking your head that he’s joining in the heist just because the plot calls for it. Unfortunately, the movie starts to lose cohesion when it’s time to finally put their plan in action, as it often feels as though the writer began to forget about the world outside of these characters. Somehow, despite carrying $42 million dollars in trucks with antiquated technology, they have no other security measures in place to protect the trucks. It’s very difficult to believe that such a thing would happen without, at the very least, a police escort. There is some redemption to be had, however, as their devious plot goes awry and unfolds without becoming a ludicrous, gratuitous action fest. I was expecting it to, of course, but I enjoyed the more suspenseful atmosphere, especially once Milo Ventimigila (Heroes) becomes involved with the story, as a wounded cop.
The movie inevitably wins on the happy note of Good winning over Evil – or Corrupt in this case, but the ending can really be said to be the movie’s weakest point. It simply ends with no real consequences, nor significance, you never really get a sense of urgency about anything in the movie. Even though you can be held in suspense throughout various portions of the movie, it ultimately unfolds predictable and offers no twist, nor particular development that stands out as worthwhile. Granted, this isn’t all that much of a negative since the movie contains very respectable writing and directing, but it simply stands to explain why the movie hasn’t garnered any sort of admiration. Basically, it’s too decent to hate, but it’s too inconsequential to praise. Overall, it’s Recommended for a viewing; emphasis on “a viewing,” since multiple viewings is highly unlikely.
Sony tosses out this rather un-heard of film onto Blu-ray in a two disc Elite case without any kind of slipcover or fancy inserts. The two discs, of course, are the Blu-ray and the Digital Copy and the only insert inside is the sheet that lists the digital copy redemption codes (one for PC/MAC and another for the PSP).
Video arrives in the form of an AVC encoded effort and as can be expected from a modern production, it looks pretty damn good. It’s got a slight sprinkling of grain throughout the film, but that should hardly be a detractor (it actually helps set the mood for the film on more than one occasion). There’s a slight golden hue about the entire film, making it a little unnatural looking at times but for the most part it’s clean and clear. Overall it’s a solid picture and considering I hadn’t heard of it prior to getting the Blu-ray, I was quite pleased with not only the quality of the film but the technical presentation as well.
And that pleasure continued through to the DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix which is clean, clear, and rather robust. There’s a lot of setup and dialogue at first, but there’s quite a bit of action to get into as well and whenever those sequences kick in, so does the subwoofer and surrounds. It’s quite an enticing and exciting mix overall and it really helped drive home my enjoyment of the film. Of course that is often the case with action films and their audio mixes, but it’s nice to know that it holds up and true here as well.
Making Of (15:19, 1080p)
Armed and Underground: Production Design (6:47, 1080p)
Crash Course: Stunts (11:30, 1080p)
Commentary with Producer Dan Farah, Skeet Ulrich, and Milo Ventimiglia
I had to do a double take at first—yeah there’s under forty minutes of featurettes to watch, but just the fact alone there actually are featurettes to watch is rather surprising to me. Add onto that fact that we get a full length commentary (sans director, strangely enough…) with the producer and a few of the actors and you get a pretty solid package all around. Although the commentary was a tiny bit strange, considering, again, there’s no director present and Milo’s character was introduced later into the game…it’s just kind of a strange mash up for a commentary, but it works in the end. The featurettes themselves are pretty straight forward, but you get some nice cast and crew commentary on the matter…and I was rather surprised to see the level of stunt work done on the film. Makes you wonder where this film was hidden away…although it did apparently open in over 1900 theaters, so I guess it wasn’t a complete unknown (although I certainly didn’t see any TV advertisements for it).
Overall Armored is a solid, if predictable, action flick to check out. I definitely enjoyed it more than I thought I would, but the cast certainly made for an entertaining ride nonetheless. Although having said that I doubt you’ll be watching it more than once, so in that regard this is worth a Rental and little more (unless you’re a fan of Fishburne or Reno [or Dillon…for whatever reason that may be] anyway).
Armored arrives on DVD and Blu-ray on March 16th.
Film review by Andrew
Blu-ray review by Zach Demeter