Image Entertainment // 2009 // 90 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Ian Visser (Retired) // May 8th, 2009
Keep your enemies close and your guns closer.
John Ridley (Til Schweiger, King Arthur) is a Secret Service agent assigned to protect the Republican presidential nominee. While on a campaign stop in sunny California, ruthless assassin Lee Maxwell (Chazz Palminteri, The Usual Suspects) blows up the motorcade, kills all the protective agents, murders the politician, and puts three bullets into Ridley.
Three years later and Ridley is out of the service and working in a boxing gym. Haunted by his failure, Ridley initially rejects an offer from an old friend to return to the game as a bodyguard for a government witness. The lure of his former profession is strong, however, and Ridley soon travels to Barcelona in order to protect his new client.
But wait! It turns out that the mysterious witness is none other than the evil Maxwell himself, now going turncoat on his associates. After punching Maxwell in the face, Ridley calms down and agrees to the job, if only because it gives him the opportunity to kill Maxwell himself after the trial is finished. But a traitor in their midst is working against them, and the pair find themselves on the run from assassins and henchmen as Maxwell's former partners race to kill him before he can testify.
Body Armour is by-the-numbers, B-grade movie making. Every cliché possible is on display here: the retired veteran (always "the best" in his field) who is convinced to take one last job, the odd-couple enemies who end up being friends, and the climatic conclusion where two combatants drop their guns to fight it out hand-to-hand. Throw into the mix a low budget and lazy directing and you have some late-night cable filler that fails to provide even the barest of thrills.
This is the kind of movie that forgets what happened in the previous scene. Much is made of the first rule of personal protection: never leave your client alone. Ridley does so not once or twice, but in almost every scene, giving Maxwell the chance to wander around Barcelona like a tourist. Despite Ridley's previous experience as an elite soldier, his combat technique largely consists of firing two handguns at once until he runs out of bullets and then high-kicking his way out of danger (what would his commanding officer say?) Director Gerry Lively (Spiker) makes things worse by shooting every scene like it is mired in rapidly setting concrete; there isn't a single memorable shot or action sequence in the entire film.
The quality of acting suffers accordingly. Lead actor Schweiger has a presence that lends itself to the role, but with middling English skills and little to do he is left stranded. Palminteri can do this kind of job in his sleep, but he is allowed enough room to ham things up while still having a good time playing the bad guy (I suspect a couple of weeks in Spain contributed greatly to the appeal of this role). The remaining cast range from acceptable to very bad, depending on how much they are allowed to say on camera.
The low-budget feel of Body Armour extends to a disappointing visual and audio experience. The widescreen image is soft with a washed-out palette of grays and browns that does little to improve matters. The two-channel Dolby Digital audio track is acceptable, but maintains a tinny tone throughout. This is a check disc, so the only extra is a trailer that makes the film seems more exciting than it actually is.
With a predictable script and lethargic directing, Body Armour has little appeal for action fans. I'm sure Palminteri enjoyed his Spanish vacation, but the rest of us shouldn't have to suffer just so he can catch some rays.
There's no protection from this judge. Guilty!
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Image Entertainment
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 90 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Not Rated