Armored

It's the newest trend, and you're reading about it here first! Or maybe second, or twelfth. Or maybe my guess is completely wrong. But the simple fact is, somewhere, right now, someone is editing out the three swear words from this flick and preparing it to show on network television; because it already is a network TV movie. True, it has a bigger budget then usual for one of those, but in all practical terms, I just paid $10.50 in US dollars for the privilege of watching a TV movie on a really big screen. Okay, really only $7.00, but I needed those Milk Duds.

But just think of it. Take a budget that's probably really small in Hollywood terms; get yourself a few B through D list stars; a script that's got moderate violence, a car chase or two, and a couple of explosions; keep the swearing to a bare minimum, and you basically get two movies for the price of one. No muss, no fuss -- this baby can go straight to any network you choose. And it's only 88 minutes. Add 32 minutes of commercials and that voice-over guy warning us that it contains mature themes after every commercial break, and voila! Programming for a Friday night sometime next year.

Oh, and it does have a plot. Matt Dillon is Mike Cochrone, a guard at an armored car company called Eagle Shield. His protege and godson, Ty Hackett (Columbus Short, from Quarantine), is just finishing his probation period there and being made a full-fledged guard himself. But in spite of having this job (which is probably pretty high-paying, I would think, just for the potential danger factor), he has money problems. His parents recently died, and he inherited a house with two mortgages, a lot of medical bills, and a vaguely troubled younger brother who's way too fond of spray paint. But old buddy Mike is there for him, always pointing out that Ty deserves better, and that they'll "figure out a way" to save his house.

This vague, unspecified "way" soon turns into a scheme that has clearly been in the works for a long time -- a plan to fake a hijack, hide the $42 million dollars they'll be carrying, and when the heat dies down, split the money six ways. But the six ways includes Ty, and he hasn't yet agreed to go along with the scheme. He's seen fighting in the Middle East, and already feels guilty enough about the people he's killed there. He doesn't need any more stuff on his conscience. But money worries are the worst, and he has Mike's solemn promise that no one will get hurt, so you can understand the temptation.

However, anyone who's ever seen a movie knows that a solemn promise that no one will get hurt ranks right up there with saying that nothing can possibly go wrong. Pretty soon the body count is rising and two armored cars will never be the same again. Mike and the other would-be thieves -- Dobbs (Skeet Ulrich), Palmer (Amaury Nolasco, Max Payne, unfortunately), Quinn (Jean Reno, a character actor from Morocco whose name you might not know, but whose face is probably familiar), and Baines (Laurence Fishburne, no longer the heroic Morpheus, now reduced to telling slightly off-color jokes) -- claimed to have a foolproof plan, but it unravels faster than you can say "Whoops."

Complications include sheriff's deputy Jake Eckehart (Milo Ventimiglia, in phase three of his ongoing plan not to be typecast as anything, playing a very good cop to make up for playing that complete pervert in Gamer) and the traditional Place Where Radio Communications Will Not Work, no matter how reliable they were before. And yes, people die. But nothing truly horrible happens, since it's only PG-13. It's an action movie for the whole family! Except it isn't, because the kids would probably get bored, when they're not freaking out. There are times when they go for a while between explosions or other dramatic bits of violence.

I'm going with two and three-quarter idols. It would've been three, but I had to dock a quarter idol for the ending, which was even more ridiculously pat than I was expecting. On the plus side, at least they didn't try to wedge a romance into the film.

Originally posted 12/2009. I have to admit, though, I don't know how quickly it made it to the small screen. I just don't watch that much television.

Image: 
Cast of the new Friday night drama about a misfit bunch of armored car guards.

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