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Armored
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Armored – Review

WHAT’S IT ABOUT?

Iraq War Hero Ty (Short) is easing his way back into civvy street, with a tearaway young brother to look after on very little money.

His godfather Cochrane (Dillon) gets him a job as a security guard at the firm where he drives armoured (we spell it correctly over this side of the Atlantic!) trucks.

He bonds with his colleagues – crazy old timer Baines (Fishburne), Dobbs (Ulrich), Palmer (Nolaso) and the oddly-named Frenchman, Quinn (Reno) – over beer, pool and stories about past heists.

Once he’s fully qualified, Cochrane promises Ty that all his financial problems will soon be over, as the rest of the team are planning a heist of their own – they’ll stash more than forty million dollars and tell the boss (Ward) that they were hijacked. No-one will get hurt. Everyone’s a winner.

But Ty rejects the invitation – how can they go ahead if someone who’s not taking part knows what’s about to go down? Can he be trusted not to spill the beans? In the end, it’s academic, as a visit from a social worker to discuss his brother’s future is all it takes to get him to change his mind.

All is going well, until they disturb a tramp who was seeking shelter in the disused factory they’ve chosen to stash the cash.

Ty disapproves of the way Baines handles the situation – that’s not how he was promised the job would go down. He sets off an alarm, attracting the attention of a local police officer (Ventimiglia), whose arrival turns the remaining gang members on each other in a way which befits the old film adage that nothing ever quite goes to plan.

WHAT’S IT LIKE?

Astoundingly, the script for this film reached the top ten of the highly prestigious Nicholl Fellowship screenplay prize, sponsored by the very same Academy that brings us the Oscars.

Astoundingly, because there is just nothing to this film. The characters are shallow, their motives are unexplained, the action – while taut – is unoriginal and as heists go, there’s none of the masterly planning or twists and turns of such films as The Inside Man or The Italian Job, to name but two.

Their presumably-carefully-planned heist doesn’t appear to include any plans about what to tell the bosses or how to get away with it in the longer term. It’s an uninventive heist with no motive (apart from money, of course, but who couldn’t use a few extra pounds?) and no plan.

The Iraqi veteran returning to a security guard job, trying to support his delinquent brother, because their parents are dead – clichéd enough for you?

It gets worse!

It’s slickly directed, but there’s not enough happening for Antal to get his teeth into.

The only way a film like this can succeed is by being knowing, cocking a snook at the genre and nodding to its many predecessors, but it takes itself far too seriously.

A smattering of B-list (admittedly near the top of the B-list) stars – such as Dillon, Fishburne, Reno and TV’s Heroes’ Ventimiglia – can’t rescue this.

Dillon and Fishburne do the best they can with the poor material, but Ventimiglia’s underplaying – which works in Heroes where he’s blessed with super-powers – lets him down here, because he’s a weak police officer who just happens by and has things happen to him. He has no control over his fate, which makes it all the more important to him to lift his performance off the screen.

Pretty much all you learn from this film is that every security guard’s emergency supplies apparently include a tube of super-glue and a couple of explosives. Remember that if you find yourself applying for a security guard job, all you returning veterans.

opens nationwide 22nd January 2010

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