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Dillon/Fishburne/Short ~ Armored
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A group of five security guards working for the Eagle Shield Armored Transport, intend to commit a robbery, on a run to a Federal Reserve Bank where two armored cars will pick up 42 million in cash. The plan is to detour the cars, unload the cash, and then stage a fake robbery. It's a very simplistic scheme, that sounds dubious to begin with, but add in the fact that the plan requires the cooperation of a sixth guard, who is only informed of the proposed heist the day before the robbery is scheduled to happen, and you have a scenario that has very little credibility.
Like forcing a square peg in a round hole, events in the movie proceed, but things just don't fit right. Mike Cochrane (Matt Dillon) is the mastermind behind the robbery plan. The last one to be brought in on the scheme is Ty Hackett (Columbus Short), a military veteran who also happens to be Cochrane's godchild.
Whether Hackett is in or out, is the critical question that affects the fate of the five other guards. Under financial pressure, Hackett reports for work the following day, and the plan is set in action. The money is picked up, and the armored cars are diverted to an abandoned factory, where the cash is unloaded and hidden. Things appears to be going well, when a homeless man is discovered hiding in area, and is chased down and killed. Believing that things have gone too far, Hackett locks himself inside one of the cars. At first, the gang try to convince him to open the doors, but things get desperate and violent, as it won't be long before the crime is discovered, and the police begin to search for the armored cars.
The plan never proceeds past the robbery stage, but judging by what happens, it is doubtful that the guards would have had the brains or resolve to stand up to a serious police investigation. These are hardly hardened men well prepared for adversity. One man gives up, and another commits suicide, while others are unstable and trigger happy. There are some major issues with first time screenwriter James V. Simpson's screenplay, and there is very little that stands up to any serious scrutiny.
Armored is a film where matters spiral out of control into complete chaos for the guards, and to some extent the filmmakers themselves. Despite some well-executed action sequences, this is a poorly conceived effort, that unfortunately fails to fully utilize the talents of a top notch cast, who try their best with what they are given. The tone is deadly serious, but the story just doesn't measure up.
I must admit that when I saw the preview for this film (over and over again it seemed) I had no interest in it. Even as I put it in the DVD player I wasn't expecting much. Perhaps this is why I was so pleasantly surprised.
The film focuses on a group of armored car drivers, friends in the field. New to the group is Ty Hackett (Columbus Short). Ty was a decorated war hero in Iraq who returned to a home where his parents had both died and he was not responsible for his younger brother Jimmy.
Working with Ty is Mike Cochrone (Matt Dillon), Ty's godfather and mentor at the company. Through Mike, Ty got the job he now has as well as friends like Baines (Laurence Fishburne), Quinn (Jean Reno), Palmer (Amaury Nolasco) and Dobbs (Skeet Ulrich). This group welcomes Ty with open arms and a sense of brotherhood.
On a regular run, the armored vehicle containing Ty and Mike and driven by Baines shorts out. Mike smells sugar in the gas tank burning and they know it's a set up. A black van pulls up, two men place explosives on the window and as it is about to go off a few firecrackers explode leaving Baines and Mike laughing. It was nothing more than an initiation prank on Ty who has passed his probationary period.
Mike gives Ty rides to and from work and one night not long after the prank, he tells Ty they have a solution to his money problems (he's about to lose his home). They plan to make the robbery real. The men guarding the money plan on a heist that would take in $42 million and expect him to be a part of the operation. Ty at first refuses but after returning home to find a social worker ready to take Jimmy form him, he agrees, as long as no one gets hurt.
The plan moves along like clockwork, the team loading the money and then heading to an abandoned steel factory where they plan on hiding the money and then making it look as if they were hijacked and the money stolen. But as with all good plans, things go wrong when a bum hiding in the plant sees them. As he tries to get away, Baines shoots him in the back.
Ty has had enough. He attempts to help the man but Mike shoots the bum in the back making sure he's dead. Ty no longer recognizes these men as who he thought they were and takes one of the two armored vehicles they came in to get away. He's stopped by Mike in the other but then locks himself in with the load of cash in the vehicle. Now the men change from simple thieves to murderers who want nothing less than to get Ty and the money out.
While they do so, a police car with an officer (Milo Ventimiglia) shows up. When Ty uses a battery to make the siren on his vehicle go off, Baines shoots the policeman as well. Now the group faces not just murder charges but the possible death of a policeman as well. But he's not dead and Ty risks a move to rescue him and get him inside the vehicle with him.
The cat and mouse game of how to get Ty out, how Ty gets help and whether or not these men will get away with murder and the cash makes for a high speed thriller that delivers on all levels. The most amazing thing to me was that as I watched I found myself surprised that it moved along so quickly. I lost track of time and never once felt like the film dragged at any point.
The film is a perfect combination of story, special effects and performances that make you truly believe these men are who they claim to be. Their motivations, their passions and their brutality are demonstrated by each individual as the film draws to its dramatic ending.
Is it predictable? Sure. But it is the rare heist film that isn't. And even those tend to have a last minute twist in common that makes them different. The joy of a heist film is less about its predictablity and more about the ride it offers getting there.
If you're looking for a film that offers adrenaline pushing moments and a hero to boot, then make a point of picking this one up. It's not a rental only film but one that movie fans might want to even add to their collection.