Watching “Armored” will make audiences keenly aware of something unsettling. It’s not of the seamlessness of the production values (there is an abundance of seams), nor of the A-list cast (there isn’t one). It’s Matt Dillon.


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His mannerisms are like those of that quintessential frat guy who tried and failed to be a Don Juan at that party you attended last week. As the movie unfolds, the striking resemblance between Dillon (“Crash”) and the hard-to-forget character Johnny Drama from the popular HBO series “Entourage” solidifies. The eerie similarity is not pure sentiment, though: Johnny Drama is played by Kevin Dillon, Matt Dillon’s real-life brother. The only difference between the two is that Kevin Dillon has readily accepted his appropriate onscreen role as a wannabe virile wash-out, while Matt continues to resist his placement in these ranks, perpetuating the cringes brought on by his made-for-TV voice.

More bothersome than Dillon’s character, though, is the film’s “protagonist,” Ty Hackett (Columbus Short, “Stomp the Yard”). It’s not that his acting is particularly annoying, but his motivations and the circumstances in his life that drive said motives. A decorated veteran of the war in Iraq, Hackett is disheartened by the sudden loss of both his parents and overburdened with the mortgage bills they left behind. As if that isn’t bad enough, a completely arbitrary visit from Child Protective Services brings with it the threat that Hackett’s younger brother may be relinquished to foster care.

Since Hackett’s new job as an armored truck driver doesn’t seem to pay the bills, his co-workers — who apparently consider him “family” after only a few days on the job — hatch a plan to earn them all a little extra spending money. The plan involves stashing the money for a planned delivery in an abandoned warehouse. No alibi is necessary, as the filmmakers would have us believe that a simple “I’m sorry” will suffice once the powers that be discover the money missing. All that matters are Hackett’s two clear-cut rules: For his younger brother’s sake, he can’t go to jail, and he can’t “have any more blood on his hands.”

The unfortunate events that befall Hackett unfold as an incomprehensible stream of happenstances. Either Hackett is top candidate for the Murphy’s Law awards, or the audience’s suspension of disbelief get shattered into thousands of pieces against the immovable metal of Hackett’s armored truck.

The perfect heist gives way to absolute chaos when Hackett’s co-conspirators discover a witness to the cash transfer. Here’s where the fun really starts. Since allowing the witness to escape would certainly land everyone in jail, and killing him violates Hackett’s “no blood” rule, it becomes clear that a choice must be made. When Hackett’s hot-headed co-workers make an unfortunate mistake, he proceeds to go ape-shit. He gets cold feet and orchestrates several ridiculous schemes that ultimately lead to several more violations of his own “no blood” rule.

During these shenanigans, the audience is supposed to root for Hackett as the hero of the story. But there are two pestering questions that make this difficult: First off, why would you violate your own principles several times if you want people to think of you as a moralist? Second, wouldn’t it have better demonstrated the prudence one expects of a decorated war hero to simply go along with the whole heist regardless of potential mishaps and wait till the dust settled before making any rash decisions?

It bears mentioning that this piece of trash was produced by Sam Raimi, whose only claim to fame is the unintentionally bad “Evil Dead” series and the accidentally mediocre “Spider-Man” series. He’s living proof that a good director isn’t required to make an entertaining movie — bad directors can strike cinematic gold once in a blue moon, as well.

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