28th Sep2017

‘Armstrong’ VOD Review

by Philip Rogers

Stars: Vicky Jeudy, Shawn Parsons, Jason Antoon, Christian Anderson, Camille Chen | Written and Directed by Kerry Carlock, Nicholas Lund-Ulrich

armstrong-poster

Lauren (Vicky Jeudy) is a recovering drug addict who is starting her first night as part of the Los Angeles EMT. Partnered with a jaded and somewhat cynical Eddie (Jason Antoon), she thinks it’s going to be a tough night. But things are about to get a lot worse.

When they get a call to attend a warehouse explosion, they are stopped by a man who collapses in front of them… A wounded drifter called Armstrong. With their communications down, they are unable to call the incident in via radio or phone, they put Armstrong into the ambulance and decide to take him to the hospital.

En route, the ambulance is attacked by a soldier. Armstrong takes out the attacker but with the crew now in danger he has no choice but to reveal what’s going on in the city. Working alone, he is on a mission to stop a murderous doomsday cult called The Fifth Sun – who are intent on starting their own doomsday. With a series of nuclear devices planted beneath Los Angeles, once detonated they will cause a catastrophic earthquake which will kill millions. Nw being targeted by the cult and with millions of lives at stake, Lauren and Eddie have no choice but to help Armstrong. They must work together if they are going to save the city and survive the night.

Every now and then you take a chance on a low budget sci-fi film which manages to surpass your expectations and Armstrong manages to do just that. A fast-paced film, which concentrates as much on the characters as it does action, delivering something which is not just fun to watch, but also makes enough of an impact to, more importantly, make it memorable.

Armstrong focuses on the three main characters, which works brilliantly to keep the film moving. The energy between the, seemingly completely different, characters really drives the film as they are forced to work together. Shawn Parsons is excellent as the war veteran Armstrong; as is Jason Antoon, who brings the comedy to the film with his bitterness and somewhat pessimistic attitude. Vicky Jeudy however steals the film with her performance as the recovering drug addict, whose emotional instability adds real depth to her character. As the events of the night unfold, she finds herself continually battling against her demons and a potential relapse. It adds a real sense of drama to the film, without ever feeling misplaced or slowing the film down. It is an unexpected depth that adds another element to the film, helping to really make Armstrong stand out.

Once the film gets going it continues to move at a swift pace, with a lot of the action taking place in the ambulance as our heroes are pursued by the cult. If there was anything I would have liked to see more of, it’s the close fighting with Armstrong, although focussing on fight scenes may – ultimately – have affected the overall pace of the movie.

The special effects in Armstrong are well executed, using a combination of CGI and practical effects. It is no real surprise that co-director Nicholas Lund-Ulrich has previous film credits for visual effects, as the film looks impressive considering the budget. Armstrong’s weapon is a bionic arm, which has numerous abilities – enough to make Inspector Gadget jealous! But the feature which worked for me was the way it unfolds. Although a more complex structure, it is reminiscent of Robocop‘s leg compartment where he stores his gun.

Armstrong is an impressive debut from co-writers and co-directors Kerry Carlock and Nicholas Lund-Ulrich. They have created an original superhero in Armstrong and a film which is driven as much by the strong performances of the cast as it is the action, something which SOME bigger-budget superhero films still fail to do.

Left open for a sequel and there is enough potential in Armstrong to really expand on the original story. Just give them a bigger budget.

Armstrong will be available on VOD and DVD (Walmart only) from October 3rd.

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