The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Sony Pictures - 2009
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 88 minutes
Genre: Crime Thriller
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 2.35:1
Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, French Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French
Starring: Matt Dillon, Laurence Fishburne, Columbus Short, Skeet Ulrich, Jean Reno, Fred Ward, Amaury Nolasco, Milo Ventimiglia
Directed by: Nimrod Antal
Music by: John Murphy
Written by: James V. Simpson
Region Code: A,B,C
Blu-ray Disc release Date: March 16, 2010
"They have a plan that is going to catch EVERYBODY off guard"
A crew of officers at an armored transport security firm risk their lives when they embark on the ultimate heist against their own company. Armed with a seemingly fool-proof plan, they intend to make off with a fortune without harming anyone in the process. But when an unexpected witness interferes, the plan quickly unravels and all bets are off.
I like the heist film genre, especially when it is built around a solid cast and a rewarding storyline. The original Taking of Pelham 123 comes to mind and is a perfect example of a well executed crime thriller. Armored doesn't explore any new avenues and uses a standard formula that revolves around a group of everymen looking to make a score. Unfortunately for them their plan is flawed. In this case that isn't the only thing that is flawed. With the incredible talent and experience featured in the cast plus a seasoned director this crime thriller has plenty of potential. At 88 minutes it feels rushed and lacks characters with the depth necessary for us to find sympathy with a group of men looking to rip off their own company. Since they are all involved it would help to have even a cursory understanding of their motivation (other than greed). The only one of them that we get some insight on is Ty (Short), a Gulf war hero taking care of his younger brother after the recent death of his parents. His father left a pile of bills behind and the local bank is threatening to take their home. He is the newest employee at the company and veteran guard Mike (Dillon), a friend of Ty's father, looks out for him. The group planning the heist have been working together for some time and Ty is now a member of their shift crew. In order for the plan to work Ty has to agree to take part since he will be present when it goes down. Mike slowly gets inside Ty's head and confidence by reinforcing his responsibility to take care of younger brother Jimmy, and speaking of his financial woes as if they are his as well since they are like family. Mike approaches Ty about the plan, explaining it will secure his and Jimmy's future but Ty wants no part of it. After things go from bad to worse at home Ty reconsiders with the clear understanding that NO ONE is going to be hurt. Mike assures him that is in fact the plan and a promise. Things get underway and run according to plan for the first 20 minutes until a witness accidentally sees them off loading the money from their trucks at a large abandoned factory complex. Things unravel quickly as the wheels begin to fall off of their fool proof' plan. It escalates even further when an inquisitive police officer comes by after hearing noises coming from the factory area. As they struggle to handle the situation it becomes evident that they are incapable of it. When Ty attempts to be the voice of reason they turn on him and the nucleus of the group begins to deteriorate. With the clock ticking the level of desperation increases and things slowly spiral out of control.
I think this film started out well but the script and screenplay fail to deliver the level of suspense and adrenaline necessary to thoroughly engage the audience. We need to know and like these guys (on some level) in order to be shocked or surprised by what eventually transpires. It was clear right from the get go that Ty was going to be the protagonist and that Baines (Fishburne) had potential as the antagonist, with Mike perhaps standing between them as the peace keeper. That didn't quite happen and to make matters worse everyone else added very little. The police officer (Milo Ventimiglia) had one scene prior to driving into the factory complex and it came off as an after thought that attempted to elicit a lame connection as he ate four hot dogs at a local stand and described going to ball games with his father. The others involved in the plot just didn't gel and felt like window dressing. The final act descends into a series of eyebrow raising contrivances that come off as corny and arrest any genuine momentum the story had. When the dust finally clears the conclusion is not only abrupt but hokey and almost felt like the filmmakers were unsure of how it should end. Armored isn't a terrible film but its underused cast, shallow script and uninspired thrills left me wanting.
The rating is for sequences of intense violence, some disturbing images and brief strong language.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
Armored comes to Blu-ray from Sony Pictures featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 25 mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 2.6 mbps.
Sony has been very consistent in the quality of their high definition video presentations on Blu-ray Disc and this is no exception. This is a reference quality encoding that looks superb. It features a reserved chromatic palette which makes use of darker tones and muted primaries. This applies predominantly to interior and darker sequences as exterior shots tend to offer more extensive use of color. Skin tones are lustrous with subtle delineation and exquisitely rendered tonal structure. Contrast and brightness are nicely balanced and blacks are deep and punchy. Detail in low light and dark areas is a mixed bag which on occasion has a negative impact on depth perception. Close ups have a transparent quality and offer appreciable texture with excellent delineation and subtle refinement. Wide angle shots have multi-stage depth, and crisp resolute imagery that is rarely questionable. I didn't notice any signs of compression or video related artifacts.
This Lossless DTS-HD MA surround mix accents the video presentation and makes regular use of the entire system to drive the film's elements.. This is a well balanced and active soundtrack that features pulsating bass that reaches far into the room to augment the dynamic impact associated with the films action based elements and music score. The surround channels are actively engaged with a blend of discretely placed sounds and spatial ambience that fills the room. Dynamic range is extended and visceral at times when combined with the high level of sonic detail present in the recording. I never had any trouble discerning subtle vocal inflections or the presence of low level sounds that were contained in the background. The mix facilitates seamless integration of the front and rear channels which creates a stable and well proportioned listening experience that is complimented by rich, room resonating bass that has excellent palpability and tight extension.
- Commentary with producer Dan Farah, Skeet Ulrich, and Milo Ventimiglia
- (HD) Planning the heist: Making of featurette - 15 minutes
- (HD) Armed and underground: Production design featurette - 6 minutes
- (HD) Crash course: Stunts featurette - 11 minutes
- (HD) Previews: 2012, The imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, Bounty Hunter, Takers, It might get loud, Soul power, Extraordinary measures, Breaking bad, The DaVinci code, Casio Royale
- BD-Live enabled
- Digital Copy Bonus Disc
Armored is a mildly entertaining heist film that would have benefited greatly from a deeper script/screenplay. There is no denying its excellent potential as evidenced by a great cast and capable director in Nimrod Antal but its shallow story, one dimensional characters and uninspired thrills were a let down. While the film doesn't inspire, the high definition presentation on Blu-ray from Sony is a knockout that features reference quality video and excellent DTS-HD MA lossless sound. The bonus features offer a brief but well rounded look at the production which includes behind the scenes footage and cast/crew interviews. If you're a genre fan give it a rental, otherwise wait and catch it on cable TV.
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Reference Review System:
JVC DLA-RS20 1080p High Definition Front Projector (Calibrated by Jeff Meier)
Stewart Filmscreen - Studiotek 130 G3 100 16x9 Screen
Anthem AVM50v THX Ultra 2 Preamp/Video Processor
Sherbourn Technologies - 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier
Oppo BDP-83 Universal disc/Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Toshiba HD-XA2 HD DVD Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Oppo 970HD universal disc DVD Player (480i HDMI)
Philips TSU9400 Pro Series Touch Panel Remote Control
Canton "Ergo" Series speakers
Axiom Audio QS8 Quadpolar speakers
SV Sound PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)
APC AV S15BLK Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Furman SPR-20i Stable Power Regulator
Wireworld, VizionWare, Audioquest, Best Deal Cables - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
Cool Components - CP-CP102 cooling package