Nimrod Antal is something of an anti-M. Night Shyamalan: a determinedly straightforward director who assiduously avoids ''ah-ha!'' plot twists and narrative bait-and-switches. And while that strategy proved refreshing in his previous film, the 2007 horror flick Vacancy, it severely undermines his latest effort, the bland, lightweight heist flick Armored.
Heist flicks are supposed to be complicated. That's what makes them heist flicks typically, they involve some brilliantly detailed scheme that gradually unravels in exciting and unexpected ways. (For copious examples, check out our list of the top ten heist flicks.) Armored's slender running time, generously pegged at 88 minutes, tells you just about all you need to know about how inanely uncomplicated this film is.
Columbus Short stars as Ty, a decorated Iraq war veteran whose new job at an armored transport company doesn't pay nearly enough to cover his mortgage or feed his little brother. So when a group of his workplace cronies, led by his godfather, Mike (Matt Dillon), approach him with a plan to stage a fake hold-up and keep the contents of a high-priority bank shipment for themselves something that surely no GED-bearing employee of a security firm has ever pondered before he grudgingly agrees to join them.
The first wrinkle in their supposedly foolproof plan arrives quickly enough when Baines (Laurence Fishburne), a trigger-happy drunk inexplicably brought in on the scheme, blows away a homeless guy who unwittingly witnesses their shenanigans. (Because incoherent vagrants always provide reliable testimony.) That's enough to prompt good-hearted Ty to opt out of the botched heist a non-starter for the rest of his crew, obviously and the remainder of Armored is devoted to his efforts at evading capture and alerting the cops.
And that's it -- no unexpected twists, no extended "this is how I did it" montages, no revealing flashbacks, no serpentine subplots. Imagine Reservoir Dogs, re-cut as a completely linear film, then stripped of its snappy dialogue, innovative shot design and compelling characters. In fact, the only thing Armored has in common with Tarantino's flick is a cop with a bloody stomach wound and even that's disappointing.
Hollywood.com rated this film 1/2 star.