Armed Response (2017) Review
Standard action thriller with a sci-fi bend starring Wesley Snipes.
Armed Response is a 2017 action thriller about a team of highly-trained operatives who find themselves trapped inside an isolated military compound after its AI is suddenly shut down.
The confines of an isolated location, be it a space station or a deserted high school often make the best settings for claustrophobic action movies. Such is the case for Armed Response, a generically-titled movie that takes place in a refurbished but abandoned prison. Mixing sci-fi with its brawny military-themed, it’s a got some good ideas but ultimately can’t make good on its promise.
Still suffering from the tragic loss of his young daughter, Gabe Arcona (Dave Annable) is called back into action by a small team of highly-advanced commandos who need his help. Turns out, Arcona is the designer of a string of facilities called “Temples,” where futuristic AI work as lie-detectors for government agencies. One such Temple has gone dark and so the team, led by Chief Isaac (Wesley Snipes) head to investigate. What they find is a place of horror as the crew inside have all been killed except one sociopathic prisoner named Saeed Refai (Eyas Younis) locked in sensory deprivation tank. Now they must use the AI on the terrorist to find out why, but there are secrets on how he got here and why he’s still alive.
Directed by John Stockwell, Armed Response is a talky thriller, one that for the first two thirds takes its cues from a number of other monster-in-the-dark type movies (perhaps most notably Event Horizon), trying to keep the mystery of what that monster is for much of the runtime. A portion of the movie is the commandos staring at monitors as they watch black & white security footage of the facilities crew get offed one by one, or so it seems and the strangeness of it all puts Isaac’s team on edge, often bickering amongst each other as they are apparently left to the whim of a station that has locked them all inside.
As things ramp up, more and more baffling deaths occur, pitting everyone against each other, but how and why? It all hinges on Saeed, who seems led to the facility on lies himself. Arcona must try and put the pieces of the scattered puzzle together, and it’s a game in deciding if the AI he created is on his side or not. Admittedly, the first half has a solid setup and while it clings to tropes with unbroken faithfulness, including low-light (much of the the film is almost uncomfortably hard to see) and jumpscares and banging sounds, it does generate a decent amount of curiosity. Unfortunately, the cleverness wears thin and the big reveal is, while unexpected, disappointing. There’s a message here but it’s lost in the haze.
Snipes has some decent screen time, saying his one liners and disappearing for long lengths, but does so with some gusto. Anne Heche of all people shows up as one of Isaac’s commandos and has a few good moments as well, though neither have enough to lift this where it should. Annable comes off best, however his grief is left unexplored and in truth, feels unnecessary. Never employing the trick up its sleeve as well as it could, Armed Response is a standard action thriller with enough to entertain but lacks the momentum and charms of a classic Snipes action experience.
Armed Response (2017) Review
Movie description: Armed Response is a 2017 action thriller about a team of highly-trained operatives who find themselves trapped inside an isolated military compound after its AI is suddenly shut down.
Director(s): John Stockwell
Actor(s): Wesley Snipes, Anne Heche, Dave Annable