Under the Radar

Mario Van Peebles Takes on Guns & PTSD in His Thriller 'Armed'

Mario Van Peebles wrote, directed and stars in "Armed."

Mario Van Peebles was raised on his father Melvin's movie sets and made his acting debut at age 14 in dad's underground classic "Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song."

He's made an impression in movies like Clint Eastwood's "Heartbreak Ridge" and had huge success as a director with "New Jack City," "Posse" and last year's "USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage." Mario's also in demand as a television director for shows like "Empire," "The Last Ship," "Nashville," "Sons of Anarchy" and "Law & Order." 

"Armed" (now in select theaters and On Demand everywhere) is a personal project that Van Peebles self-financed. He wrote, directed and stars in this thriller about a former U.S. Marshal who's been struggling since he led his team on raid that went terribly wrong. We've got a clip that finds his character Chief working in a barbershop.

Chief's struggling and finds out the rest of his crew is struggling as much as he is. The government recognizes that he's unstable and puts him on the no-fly list. That doesn't stop him from amassing a huge arsenal and setting out to uncover what he sees as a conspiracy.

There's some trippy stuff here and the line between reality and hallucination for Chief is pretty blurry. This isn't a by-the-numbers thriller but rather Mario's effort to make a personal statement about guns, mental instability and the exercise of power in America. It's not neat or clean or orderly. And it forcefully colors outside the lines that a studio would have set for a mainstream project.

"Armed" is the kind of movie that is going to be someone you know's favorite movie and scare off of their friends when they insist of making everyone watch it. Mario Van Peebles made the movie he wanted to make and viewers won't be bored.

 

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