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‘Armstrong’ (review)

Produced by Doug Bilitch, Kerry Carlock,
Carly Duncan, Nicholas Lund-Ulrich, Paul Rocha
Screenplay by Nick Rufca
Story by and Directed by
Kerry Carlock, Nicholas Lund-Ulrich
Starring Vicky Jeudy, Shawn Parsons,
Jason Antoon, Christian Anderson,
Kevin Pollak, Camille Chen

Sometimes I read a plot summary before I watch a movie and know I am going to enjoy it. When I read the plot summary for Armstrong I was really excited to see it. Here it is:

During her first night on the job, a rookie EMT and her partner pick up a wounded superhero and are pulled into his mission to save Los Angeles from a sinister organization.

To say I wanted to love this movie would be an understatement.

What an amazing sidebar story line to the current windfall of super hero movies we have been graced with the last decade or so. The premise was so creative I couldn’t help but be excited by it. Then I saw it starred Vicky Jeudy from Orange Is The New Black and I got even more excited. She is a dynamic screen presence with an easy grace and natural style.

Unfortunately, a great premise does not make a great movie and Armstrong is not a great movie.

First of all, the plot remains nebulous, even after the ambulance crew runs into the injured “superhero.” Who are the good guys? Who are the bad guys? Why are they fighting? What’s the conspiracy? This film is a great demonstration of the challenge of taking a great idea and turning it into a great script, then taking a great script and making it into a film.

I think Kerry Carlock and Nicholas Lund-Urlich came up with a great idea. Having a lot of combined experience in film were able to get some money and backing, but when the rubber met the road they fell down.

In my real life I am a software executive and I run into this issue a ton. A good idea with no clear plan for operational execution leads to a substandard result and for all my enthusiasm before I saw the movie, that’s what we are left with. To be fair, this isn’t a terrible move. It just seems like the people making it wanted to outsmart the audience and wound up outsmarting themselves.

Another possibility is they scripted this as a serial pilot and were told to stretch it into a feature by their backers. That would actually make some sense, because for a relatively short film, they sure try and pack a lot in without much explanation.

The acting performances are solid, but searching, as if the writers didn’t spend a lot of time explaining the background to the cast. Shawn Parson, who ably played the title character, seemed to be constantly holding back. Part of the mystery was the plot was supposed to be revealed little by little but all the waiting failed to pay off. That was the recurring theme of this film.

Promise after promise, but no real payoff or explanation as to why it all it went down. Considering Lund-Ulrich’s background in visual effects I expected more from the action/special effects sequences.

All in all a disappointment.

1.5 out of 5 stars

Armstrong is available On Demand and DVD, exclusively at Walmart


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