Armstrong is a low budget superhero film about two EMT’s who wind up in the middle of cybernetic superhero’s quest to cancel the apocalypse. Armstrong had the potential to be a great sci-fi/action indie film but it’s unfortunately held down by its massively overambitious story. There’s a lot to admire here, the special effects, for the most part, are well done for a project with such a low budget, and the film really plays to its strengths in terms of setting and limitations, plus there’s a nice audio cameo by the great Kevin Pollack, but the screenplay is ridiculously heavy on exposition and there’s a severe lack of likable characters and humor. This film takes itself way too seriously, and it doesn’t have the tools necessary to tell the story it truly wants to tell, so it relies way too much on overly complicated exposition dumps and a terribly cheap looking helicopter chase scene to fill in the noticeable gaping blanks. There are a lot of little things, narratively speaking, that could have been tweaked in order for the film to overcome its budgetary limits, and with a running time of almost 90 minutes, I feel like this would have been a magnificent short film. Stretching this into a feature-length movie definitely worked to the story’s detriment.
“…two EMT’s who wind up in the middle of cybernetic superhero’s quest to cancel the apocalypse.”
Actress Vicky Jeudy plays Lauren, a rookie EMT with a dark past. Jason Antoon plays Eddie, Lauren’s grizzled riding partner with a bad attitude and an almost complete lack of empathy. Both of these actors are competent, even when delivering some of the film’s sillier dialogue, but there’s nothing that makes either of their characters likable. There are no warm and tender moments between the two of them, Lauren is just a neurotic mess and Eddie is just an obnoxiously stern asshole. We’re later introduced to Armstrong, a superhero cyborg with a weaponized prosthetic arm. Armstrong is played by Shawn Parsons, and again, we have a solid actor who just doesn’t offer anything in terms of liability or even relatability. The story is a simple one, the good guy has to stop bad guys with the help of people who have no idea what they’ve just gotten themselves into, but the script forces upon us a dump of unnecessarily complicated exposition. The rule is “show, don’t tell”, but there’s way too much telling going on in this. This film wanted to tell an epic story and do some vivid world-building, but the filmmakers didn’t have the budget or the abilities to do it right. This film is definitely hurt by its script. There needed to be warmer characters and less explaining.
“This film wanted to tell an epic story and do some vivid world-building…”
This film isn’t a total lost cause, I feel like Director Kerry Carlock and Nicholas Lund-Ulrich could have worked magic with a bigger budget and a tighter script. There’s a lot of potential here, and we need more films with heroic African American female leads, but this film’s flaws are just too noticeable to be forgiven. There are no standout characters or mind-blowing concepts that will make you overlook its shortcomings. Armstrong is not a complete mess, but I almost feel like it would have been better if it were. The film features a talented cast and commendable special effects, and it looks amazing and competently shot, but the unfocused script and severe lack of personality in its characters makes the film nearly impossible for me to recommend.
Armstrong (2017) Directed by Kerry Carlock and Nicholas Lund-Ulrich. Written by Kerry Carlock, Nicholas Lund-Ulrich, and Nick Rufca. Starring Vicky Jeudy, Shawn Parsons, Jason Pantoon, Kevin Pollack.
6 out of 10