Chris Potamitis (Liam Hemsworth) wants to be a cop, like his father. Unfortunately, the police academy rejects his application. Chris does the next best thing and gets a job as a security guard driving an armored truck for Empire State. When his partner is killed during an attempted robbery, Detective James Ransome (Dwayne Johnson) vows that if he finds out Chris had anything to do with his partner’s death, he would come after him.
While on desk duty after the death, Chris sees how poorly guarded the vault is at Empire State. He hatches a plan for his childhood friend, Eddie (Michael Angarano) and a local gangster to empty the vault. The night they are supposed to rob the armored car company, Detective Ransome gets an anonymous tip about the heist. The plan is delayed. The trio must carry out their plan without Detective Ransome, or Spyro (Chris Diamantopolous), the cold-blooded mob boss finding out.
Empire State is a straight to DVD movie, based on actual events in the 1980s. The movie has potential, it just doesn’t come anywhere close to delivering. The one thing I’m learning from “true story” movies lately is that it is dim-witted people who are trying to pull off ridiculous crimes.
Again, I don’t know how much is screenwriting and how much is trying to keep the film true to life, but the action, and the story in general is lacking. There is no chemistry between any of the actors, even the “childhood friends.” There is no build up to tell you what the relationship is between Chris’ dad and Spyro. No character development to tell you why Spyro is so feared. You just jump right into the middle of the story. Eddie loses his portion of the haul and becomes insanely desperate for more. Again, with no explanation. Dwayne Johnson isn’t quite the bumbling idiot he was in Pain & Gain, but he’s not much better in Empire State. All around, it was a collection of flat performances.
The only thing this movie gives you is a sense of how far we have come in terms of technology and security. By today’s standards, I don’t see how this heist could have not been easy to pull off. Yet, somehow, it isn’t.
It’s easy to see why this movie went straight to DVD. It’s not worth paying for a rental, let alone movie theater prices. If you take anything away from this movie, it’s that if a movie is based on actual events and stars The Rock, skip it.