It's hard to figure out why those who devised the marketing campaign for Armored elected not to show it to critics in advance. After all it costars Laurence Fishburne, an Oscar-nominated actor ( What's Love Got to Do with It? ) and Matt Dillon ( Drugstore Cowboy, Crash ), one of the few actors to achieve critical respect after getting his start as an androgynous teen featured regularly in the pages of Tiger Beat (a typical feature article "Take a Bath with Matt"). A.O. Scott in his New York Times review may have put his finger on the problem when he described the movie as "a blunt and unpretentious action thriller too unassuming to show itself in advance to critics." Ty Burr in the Boston Globe added "This is exactly the kind of lean, unpretentious B-thriller that people who watch movies for a living tend to appreciate, even if paying audiences no longer do." But Bruce DeMara wrote in the Toronto Star that a studio's decision to block weekend reviews usually means that it's expecting "a slew of tepid reviews. Well, at least they got something right." Actually, with a few exceptions -- DeMara's being one of them -- the reviews have turned out to be mostly favorable. Joe Neumaier in the New York Daily News describes it as "a tense, gutsy crime drama ... and, for this genre, surprisingly ethical." The Times' s Scott pronounced it "an unabashed B movie basic, brutal and sometimes clumsy, but far from dumb, and not bad at all." And to the Los Angeles Times 's Glenn Whipp, it's "a solid heist flick."

07/12/2009