From left, Jean Reno, Matt Dillon and Laurence Fishburne star in this action-thriller. (Lacey Terrell / Screen Gems )
"Nobody gets hurt . . . no bad guys, just good guys," Matt Dillon's scheming security guard tells a recruit in "Armored," a solid heist flick elevated by its ensemble cast and the visual eye of Hungarian-born director Nimrod Antal ("Kontroll").
Naturally, in the best B-movie tradition, the guard's assessment of things doesn't work out quite as planned. People get hurt and some of the good guys aren't so good after all when a $42-million payday enters the picture. You'd think more than one of these guys would have the presence to ask: What's a little money between friends?
The comrades in question are six stubble-sporting tough guys working for Los Angeles-based Eagle Shield Security. Dillon is Cochrane, the man with the plan and godfather to Hackett (Columbus Short), a decorated young vet just back from Iraq and facing foreclosure on his dilapidated home.
Cochrane tells Hackett about a bunch of armored car guards who faked a heist and kept the cash. In his mind, the only mistake they made was not taking enough. Cochrane and his crew members -- played by Laurence Fishburne, Jean Reno, Skeet Ulrich and Amaury Nolasco -- don't plan on coming up short, but they need Hackett on board.
The particulars of their plan are a little fuzzy, but first-time screenwriter James V. Simpson's screenplay contains a couple of satisfying surprises, as well as a refreshing appreciation for honorable people trying to do the right thing, something of a rarity for this genre. (There's also a nice nod to "Hill Street Blues," delivered by Fred Ward's security supervisor.)
Antal rightly won praise for his creative camera work in his 2005 comic thriller "Kontroll," but his disciplined approach works well here too. Antal's sophomore effort, "Vacancy," showed he had a knack for making the most out of tight spaces and, since much of "Armored" takes place inside its thick-plated trucks, he's the right man for the material.
"Armored" won't win any prizes, but it does offer comforting evidence that there's still room for a well-crafted B movie among CG-laden spectacles. Only Robert Zemeckis' Scrooge could cry humbug at this movie's modest pleasures.