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Over aerial shots of Southern California on a beautiful summer day, talk radio hosts and their callers chirpily debate gun control The Witch Files and the meaning of the 4th of July in the opening moments of Mario Van Peebles’ “Armed.” Similarly, the ending features a fusillade of news clips and statistics pertaining to guns, mental health and mass shootings. In between? Oh, where to start …

Although clearly a filmmaking choice, the film suffers from serious genre dysphoria. For now, let’s go with psychological social Ride Along 2 satire. Van Peebles, who also wrote and directed, stars as a Kipling-quoting former U.S. Marshal named Jason “Chief” Pratt, afflicted with PTSD and riddled with guilt over a raid he led that went horribly awry.

Scattershot in tone with a hallucinogenic visual style, “Armed” veers wildly from action to drama, with bouts of physical comedy, a dash of The Nice Guys horror and an almost romantic comedy subplot involving Pratt and a British bisexual, vegan, nudist, erotic filmmaker called Grace (Jemma Dallender).

Duration: N/A



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