Saturday, July 09, 2022

Armored, Co-Starring the Late Fred Ward

Given the runaway rate of inflation, it now hardly seems worth an armored car crew’s efforts to steal a $42 million shipment of cash from the Federal Reserve. During the pandemic, the Fed was pumping that kind of cash into the economy on a daily basis. Add to that a reckless fiscal policy and lo and behold, we have sky-high inflation. On the other hand, even back in 2009, Los Angeles looks so bleak and depressed, $42 mil would presumably go a long way there. Regardless, Ty Hackett’s workmates are taking the shipment whether he approves or not in Nimrod Antal’s Armored, which airs on Bounce TV.

Hackett just passed his probationary period at Eagle Shield, but he is still struggling to make ends meet, ever since he assumed custody of his younger brother. The veteran is trying to do right, but Social Services is threatening to take annoying Jimmy away from him. Hackett’s godfather Mike Cochrane helped bring him into the company and now he has another idea to help, but it’s the kind of bad help Hackett doesn’t want any part of.

Initially, Hackett refuses to participate in Cochrane’s plan to fake an armed robbery of the Fed shipment, but Social Services and threats of foreclosure force him to reconsider. Nevertheless, when Cochrane’s co-worker-accomplices kill a homeless bystander and shoot a cop, Hackett turns on them. Trapped in a post-industrial cellular dead-zone, Hackett barricades himself and wounded Officer Jake Eckehart in the second armored car, after burning up the cash in the first. From there, an old school game of cat-and-mouse plays out.

Way back when
Armored opened in theaters it was not screened for critics. That still seems strange, because Antal had a bit of a reputation for his debut feature, Control, produced in his native Hungary. It’s also not a bad film. Antal’s approach is dark and grungy, which actually makes it rather stylish.

As Hackett and Cochrane, Columbus Short and Matt Dilllon both look like they are carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders. Both men are rendered with down-to-earth complexity. In contrast, the rest of the crew are basically stock characters. However, Jean Reno, Laurence Fishburne, and Skeet Ulrich still project a lot of color and energy on-screen, which is definitely a skill.

Fred Ward, who sadly passed away recently, appears too briefly portraying the armored car dispatcher, Duncan Ashcroft, who is like
Armored’s equivalent of Hill Street Blues’ Michael Conrad, who would tell morning roll call “let’s be careful out there.” Yet, he definitely had the perfect grit and grizzle for Antal’s blue-collar caper.

Refreshingly, Antal and screenwriter James V. Simpson brought a very definite moral dimension to this crime story. Hackett was against the plan from the start, simply because it was wrong. When his accomplices turned to killing, he had to break with them. That killing also leads to terrible guilt and awful consequences. Recommended as street-smart heist drama,
Armored airs 7/10, 7/13, 7/16, 7/21, and 7/25 on Bounce (and streams on Hulu).