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MPAA Rating
Credits
Genre
Drama, Action/Adventure
Cast
Matt Dillon as Mike; Laurence Fishburne as Baines; Columbus Short as Ty; Jean Reno as Quinn; Milo Ventimiglia as Eckehart; Skeet Ulrich as Dobbs; Amaury Nolasco as Palmer; Fred Ward as Duncan Ashcroft; Andre Kinney as Jimmy
Director
Nimród Antal (Vacancy)
Distributor
Screen Gems
In Theaters
December 4, 2009
Reviewer
Bob Smithouser
Armored

Armored

Iraq war veteran Ty Hackett is struggling to keep it together. It has nothing to do with post-traumatic stress disorder. Rather, after his parents died suddenly, Ty became responsible for his truant teenage brother, Jimmy, as well as house payments that have the bank threatening foreclosure. If he could just land a few extra shifts at his new job with Eagle Shield Armored Transport, it could solve his money problems and keep his brother from winding up in foster care.

That’s when Mike, a family friend and fellow guard, suggests a shortcut to financial freedom. It seems his team is planning an inside job—a phony heist that would net them a cool $42 million in cash.

Ty is repulsed by the idea at first. But in a moment of weakness (either beat the system or let the system beat him), he joins Mike and the boys with the understanding that no one will get hurt. "That’s a promise," Mike assures him.

You can tell where this is going, can’t you? South. In a hurry. And you can bet that, amid the chaos of plans gone awry, Mike’s vow that no one will get hurt becomes a flimsy one indeed.

Positive Elements

Ty is a decorated American soldier haunted by the civilian deaths that occurred during an attempt to protect his comrades-in-arms. He values human life. For the most part, he’s the team’s conscience, and his attempts to act honorably once their scheme unravels alienates him from the rest of the guards. In fact, Ty risks his own safety to get help for injured people, including a policeman whose serious wounds were indirectly Ty’s fault ("I’m the reason you’re in this mess").

Spiritual Content

One of the guards in on the heist is Palmer, a religious convert who, according to a goading co-worker, was recently "tight with the devil." He replies, "God saved my life, and He could still save yours." Palmer piously rolls his eyes in disgust when peers make off-color jokes, yet appears to pray over the loot he helped steal.

[Spoiler Warning] Worse still, he pretends to comfort a friend, only to lead the poor guy into a dark room and coldheartedly stab him to death. Soon after, this man of unspecified faith spews the f-word, asks, "Do you think God will forgive me?" and takes his own life.

Sexual Content

When one man takes pride in his large gun, others joke that it’s a means of compensating for his undersized manhood. That same guard leaves a "for a good time, call" note on the donation bucket intended for the widow of a fallen colleague. Photos of immodestly dressed women have been taped to a locker-room wall.

Violent Content

For inexperienced criminals dedicated to pulling off a non-violent job, these guys seem uncharacteristically comfortable violently protecting their interests once the killing starts. The worst of the bunch is Baines, a guard itching for someone to make his day. His quick trigger dispatches a vagabond who sees them hiding the cash in an abandoned factory. He also shoots a nosy cop, opening a gory wound in the man’s abdomen. (It bleeds profusely as Ty tries to save his life.)

A suicidal man steps off a roof. Another is stabbed. There are fisticuffs, perilous chases, violent truck wrecks and fiery explosions, occasionally yielding casualties. Several characters quite literally end up with blood on their hands. Early on, moviegoers hear stories of past ambushes and the violent ends that befell those guards.

Crude or Profane Language

Nearly two dozen profanities, among them one f-word, a dozen s-words, two abuses of Jesus’ name and several uses of "g‑‑d‑‑n." There’s a crude reference to urination.

Drug and Alcohol Content

Men gather at a local watering hole to swap stories and toast a new recruit with beer. One thief swigs booze from a flask during the robbery.

Other Negative Elements

When Ty thinks his brother swiped spray paint from a store, he’s not happy about it. But when he learns that it’s really from the school supply cabinet, he shrugs it off, grateful that Jimmy is at least attending school.

Until the shooting starts and severe character flaws are revealed, the film has audiences rooting for the company of thieves to succeed.

Conclusion

Clocking in at a scant 88 minutes, Armored is the cinematic equivalent of a drag race. After revving its engines a bit, this heist flick slams into gear and speeds straight ahead with noisy, unspectacular action that’s linear, predictable and (mercifully) brief. As a result, its recognizable cast winds up slumming as wafer-thin characters in a pedestrian, TV-caliber effort … but with more profanity than you’ll hear on basic cable.

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