There’s a funny throwaway gag on The Simpsons in which a theater marquee is emblazoned with the words “MOVIE WITH AIR CONDITIONING.” Armored is the prototypical movie with air conditioning, a 90-minute slot-filler so simple, generic, and blandly proficient that the reels might as well come delivered in a brown paper sack. There’s nothing wrong with a tight little genre film that efficiently delivers the goods; in fact, Nimród Antal’s last effort, the underrated motel-hell thriller Vacancy, did exactly that, exploiting a single location to maximum effect. Armored also takes place largely in one place—an abandoned warehouse where duplicitous guards for an armored-truck company hole up after a botched heist—but it lacks that extra layer or two to make it interesting. The script and direction is all bones, no flesh.
Leading a cast flush with squandered character actors, Columbus Short stars as the new guy at an armored-truck company, trying to scrape together enough money to keep his home and retain guardianship over his troubled younger brother. His situation is just desperate enough for his veteran co-workers—Matt Dillon, Laurence Fishburne, Jean Reno, Skeet Ulrich, and Amaury Nolasco—to rope him into a robbery scheme involving two trucks containing $42 million. When the plan goes kaflooey and things get violent, Short locks himself inside one of the trucks and tries to get help for himself and wounded cop Milo Ventimiglia, who affirms his reputation as the second most boring hero on Heroes.
For nearly half of Armored, Short is inside the truck while the others try to break into it by hammering out the hinges with a large hunk of steel. (Pity the poor men who have to hold the thin metal spike to poke the hinge out, who get their fingers crushed more than once.) This abandons Fishburne—an actor of considerably higher caliber than this role requires—to spend the majority of his screen time thrusting his arms downward and grunting, albeit with the subtle variation of snowflakes. It’s a film without twists, where everything is what it seems, and when the mess has been resolved, it’s even at a loss for a proper denouement. Armored just ends—and with it, so does the access to plush chairs and free air conditioning.