Armored (2009) [Blu-ray]

Genre(s): Action / Crime
Screen Gems || PG13 - 88 minutes - $38.96 || March 16, 2010
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2010-03-11


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.
Video

.:: A U D I O ::.
Audio

B L U - R A Y
.:: EXCLUSIVES ::.

Blu-ray Exclusives

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director:
Writer(s): James V. Simpson (written by)
Cast: Matt Dillon, Jean Reno, Laurence Fishburne, Skeet Ulrich, Columbus Short, Amaury Nolasco, Fred Ward, Milo Ventimiglia


Theatrical Release Date: December 4, 2009


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • Feature Commentary
  • 3 Featurettes
  • Digital Copy
  • movieIQ
  • BD-Live


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Widescreen (2.35)
  • English (DTS-HD MA 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English SDH, English, French

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.::THE FILM::.

IMAGE

Greed is the root to all evil. Thatís the basic premise to Armored, an old-school heist movie that doesnít pretend to be anything else. The film is only 88-minutes long (including end credits) and itís only about the half-way point where the movie really kicks in. The previous 40-minutes or so are used to develop the main characterís back story and struggles while the latter half is all suspense and thrills.

The movie centers on Ty Hackett (COLUMBUS SHORT), a Marine who has returned home after fighting in Afghanistan and now working for an armored car service. His parents were killed in a car accident and now he is in charge of taking care of his little brother. Unfortunately, his parents left him with two mortgages and now the bank wants to repossess the house. At the armored car company, his best bud, Mike (MATT DILLON), offers a way out: he and his crew will rob their own trucks of $42 million in cash, which they are to transport from the United States Treasury.

Mikeís crew includes brother-in-law Baines (LAURENCE FISHBURNE), cool-under-pressure man Quinn (JEAN RENO), most likely drug addict Dobbs (SKEET ULRICH) and Palmer (AMAURY NOLASCO), who Iím still not sure what his deal is.

After looking at the situation heís in, Ty reluctantly agrees and the heist is on. The fool-proof plan is in place: After picking up the load, they take both trucks to an abandoned factory where there is no radio reception (of course) and they have the time and privacy to unload and hide the cash before calling in the robbery. Of course, as with any perfect plan, thereís always a flaw and when they discover a homeless man has witnessed their actions, gun freak Baines shoots the man before Mike, as Ty tries to help him, shoots and kills him. Thatís just the beginning and Tyís cooperation turns to fear as he barricades himself in the one of the trucks still full of money.

After pleas and threats by ex-buddy Mike, Ty sounds the alarm which gets the attention of Officer Eckehart (MILO VENTIMIGLIA). Mike manages to cut off the alarm but Eckhart still manages to locate its origin and before long, is thrown into the situation when, of course, Baines shoots Eckehart. Wanting to help the officer, Ty creates a distraction and manages to get Eckehart into the truck. As Mike and his crew try to get inside the truck, by taking out the backdoor hinges, can Ty make it out of the situation?

Armored isnít a complicated movie. In fact, itís almost a throwback to a 1970s B-movie but with higher production values. The cast is fairly impressive and Iím a little surprised that they could get someone like Jean Reno or Laurence Fishburne to take smaller supporting roles and behind a relative newcomer in Columbus Short who is the main character for intent and purpose. And on that note, I think Short does a good job playing up a guy pushed into an almost unwinnable situation. Weíre not talking about profound performances, from any of them for that matter, but good enough for the script on hand.

The movie was directed by Nimrod Antal who most recently helmed the intense horror movie, Vacancy and also helmed Predators (set for a July 2010 release) starring Topher Grace, Adrien Brody and Laurence Fishburne. This also marks the debut of screenwriter James V. Simpson. Antal seems to be a capable director and he provides Armored with a fast-paced story with just enough character development for the main character to make us care.

Do the actions of the gang make a whole lot of sense? Not really. Does it matter? To some, maybe. For me, I was only interested in some of the more suspense elements than the actual heist (which itself isnít very unique or memorable) and on that side, the movie did its job.

Overall, thereís not much to Armored. There arenít any compelling side stories. Each of the supporting characters have their own reasons for the money, but itís never fully explained and really, no explanation was needed. The filmmakersí knew what they were making and it wasnít the next great heist movie; heck, itís not even on par with The Italian Job remake. Instead, itís a short flick with some cool action and decent acting. Thatís it. Nothing more and nothing less.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

Audio Commentary Ė Producer Dan Farah & Actors Skeet Ulrich and Milo Ventimiglia sit down for a low-key track. There are too many silent spots and they mainly stick to behind-the-scenes subjects and general stories about one another. The producer, mainly, does delve into things like locations, script changes and the like.

Planning the Heist: Making of (15:19; HD) Ė This is your basic interview-fest from the cast and crew with scenes from the film thrown in for good measure. It begins with the script before moving on to filming and casting. Thereís not much here as itís a safe making-of, though there are some spoilers so beware of that.

Armed and Underground: Production Design (6:47; HD) covers the, obviously, production design and primarily features interviews with the director and production designer (the cast does chime in as well) as they set everything up in a large sound stage.

Crash Course: Stunts (11:30; HD) takes a look at the stunt work done on the film. Again, the director leads the way with some sound bites with the stunt coordinator talking about his approach. I think this and ďArmed and UndergroundĒ wouldíve been better served put together with the ďPlanning the HeistĒ featurette to make one larger making-of.

The disc also includes previews of 2012 and The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus.

** BLU-RAY EXCLUSIVES **

movieIQ is a standard Sony feature where you can get information on the actors and locations. I never found the usefulness out of this, but others might be interested.

BD-Live is a portal to awesome things like... Sony trailers and other promotional material.

We also get a second disc for a digital copy compatible with iTunes, WMV and the PSP.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

IMAGE

Armored is presented in its original 2.35 aspect ratio and in 1080p high-definition. The picture is fairly vivid with plenty of daytime scenes that provide a good color palette while even the darker scenes look good as well. The detail level is great as well being able to see the sweat coming off the charactersí faces. I noticed no flaws like dust or scratches so it is a basically flawless presentation. Now, the reason I downgraded it to 4.25 is because at times the picture does get a little soft, but overall itís not too bad.

The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is equally up to the challenge providing a reverberating soundtrack where the dialogue is very clear coming from the center channel, ambient noises from the front and rear channels and the low-frequency giving that thump any heist film should have with gunfire and crashing armored cars. I must say, I was fairly impressed after a few previous HD tracks have been disappointing, mainly in the low-frequency area.



.::OVERALL::.

Armored isnít a great movie, even great in the heist genre, but it certainly provided plenty of entertainment value. The action, while forgettable and unremarkable, is still good enough and the cast ensemble isnít too bad either. The Blu-ray gets high marks in both the audio and video but slightly falters in the features department and thus is not a day one purchase, instead if you can find it on sale down the road it might be worth picking up.