Armored

Most people will take one look at Nimród Antal’s “Armored” and be immediately tempted to write it off as the kind of B-movie action thriller that you’d only watch if you were stuck home alone on a weekend. It really isn’t that bad, but with all the talent that’s involved, it should have been a whole lot better. Columbus Short stars as Ty Hackett, a decorated war hero who returns home to take care of his younger brother after their parents pass away. Although his godfather, Mike (Matt Dillon), gets him a job working alongside him as a security guard for an armored truck service, Ty still struggles to make ends meet. Desperate to get some quick cash before he loses his house to the bank, Ty begrudgingly agrees to join Mike and their co-workers in a plot to steal the $42 million they’re transporting and make it look like a robbery.

After all, it’s a foolproof plan with no “bad guys.” At least, that’s what everyone thinks until a nosey bum is accidentally killed in the process and Ty locks himself inside the truck with half of the payload. With the clock ticking down to their scheduled check-in with headquarters, Mike and his team get to work on removing the door, only for a meddlesome cop (Milo Ventimiglia) to get in the way. The further along the movie gets, the more ridiculous it becomes, with a series of preventable plot holes riddling the story like a piece of Swiss cheese. The film’s biggest crime, however, is its misuse of the cast. You’d think Antal would want to make the most of actors like Laurence Fishburne, Jean Reno, and even Skeet Ulrich, and yet each one is barely given more than a few lines. Had they played a bigger role in the movie, “Armored” might have been more entertaining, but as it stands, it’s something you’ll likely forget the minute it’s over.

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“New Moon” and “The Blind Side” to have repeat box office bout

With a number of mostly rather underwhelming looking new films debuting this post-Thanksgiving/pre full-Christmas insanity week in medium-to-wide-release, box office pros like jolly Carl DiOrio of The Hollywood Reporter and Variety‘s Pamela McClintock appear to agree pretty strongly that the battle this week will once again be between the romantic monsters of Summit’s “The Twilight Saga: New Moon” and the football loving Red State good Samaritans of Warners’ “The Blind Side.” Considering that, as I wrote about last Sunday, “New Moon” dropped by 70% in its second last week while “The Blind Side” actually grew without the benefit of a major expansion — something I’ve never seen in the entire time I’ve been writing these posts — my money’s on the Sandra Bullock feel-good drama.

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Of the four new releases said to be appearing in 1,000 to 2,000+ theaters this weekend, the most promising, both artistically and commercially, is “Brothers,”  a remake of a widely acclaimed Afghanistan war-themed 2005 drama from Denmark. Distributed by Lionsgate, the movie is an intense love triangle involving the not-actually-dead young Afghanistan war vet played by Tobey Maguire, his not-actually-a-widow played by Natalie Portman, and his black sheep brother, Jake Gyllenhaal — who looks so much like a brother to Maguire that he once is supposed to have nearly replaced him in one of the “Spiderman” sequels.  (If they worked Elijah Wood into the cast, they would have achieved the baby-faced, raspy-voiced star trifecta.)

Director Jim Sheridan of “My Left Foot,” “In the Name of the Father,” and “In America” has a real flair for intense tales that dance around the edges of melodrama and then sometimes dive right in. The one-two-three punch of the very well known youngish stars would make you think this should come in with a decent amount of money — at least in the double digits. However, considering the growing news and controversy around the Afghanistan war, the topic might be a bit too timely for audience tastes. Also, a film like this should probably should at least crack 70% on the Tomatometer, especially, but hitting it of with something  in the neighborhood of 5060% of critics will have to do. Worse reviewed films have received Oscar nominations, however.

Robert De Niro in Next up is another remake of a foreign language hit, this time of an Italian comedy-drama/tearjerker from 1990 that starred the great Marcello Mastroianni and was directed by Giuseppe Tornatore of “Cinema Paradiso.” (Not at all a favorite of mine, by the way.) Disney’s PG-13 “Everybody’s Fine” brings us Robert De Niro as a widower trying to reconnect with his children and grandchildren and costars Drew Barrymore, Kate Beckinsale, and Sam Rockwell. A sentimental tale for the holidays with this kind of star power should have some wattage in theory, though  apparently the “tracking” is kind of stinking for this film which isn’t really wowing the critics either. Our own Jason Zingale liked it mainly on the strength of DeNiro’s performance but this one feels like the movie you settle for if grandma, or maybe great-grandma, wants to see something nice and you can’t get into the “The Blind Side.”

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