Stealth Movie Review

Sometime in the near future, the Navy will develop extremely cool new fighter jets called Talons, and they will be piloted by moody ignorami in dangerous anti-terrorism missions all around the planet; that is, until an even cooler jet comes along and threatens to replace them in the whole blowing-up-baddies department, leaving said ignorami even moodier and more disgruntled. That, at least, is the thesis of Stealth, the newest slab of computer-generated tedium to be visited upon us by maestro Rob Cohen - who has slid so far downhill that his previous work, like the turbo-charged exploitation flick The Fast and the Furious, looks like classics compared to what he's shoveling out now.

Because studio execs are still strangely demanding that directors include human beings in their films, Stealth provides us three Navy test pilots who were chosen to fly the top-secret, experimental Talon planes. Played by Jamie Foxx, Jessica Biel, and Josh Lucas, they're sort of a holy trinity of hotness, flying their sleek craft in perfect formation, and eager for whatever life-threatening emergency gets tossed their way. Unfortunately, they've just been saddled with a fourth wingman: an unmanned plane named EDI, for Extreme Deep Invader, which sounds like something purchased by seedy men in certain disreputable shops on the dark fringes of the San Fernando Valley. The three are none too happy with having EDI along on the secret mission they're given early in the film: Take out a Rangoon high-rise that's empty save for a number of high-level terrorists. And they're resentful not just because EDI talks like HAL's drugged younger brother, but because they're worried about getting replaced by machines, which is just what their commander officer (Sam Shepard) wants to happen - with a little help from a shadowy buddy of his in D.C.

Needless to say, something will happen in the film that causes EDI to go haywire, putting just about everyone at risk. This is expected, one would hardly introduce a brilliant robotic killing machine into a summer blockbuster and have it do exactly what it is supposed to do. Obedient robots make for bad cinema. What is unexpected is that EDI ends up having more personality than just about anybody else on screen.

One can't really blame Jamie Foxx for taking this paycheck. Oscar-winner or not, he's at a precarious spot in his career, and he needs to show that, in addition to his quite formidable talent, he can also rake in millions at the box office. That being said, it's astonishing how little of his firecracker charisma is visible through the murk of Cohen's haphazard directing. Although obviously the star player in the trio (nobody would ever accuse Biel and Lucas of having a surfeit of personality), Foxx is shunted off to the side as occasional comic relief, leaving the other two to pursue a painfully dull, thwarted pseudo-romance. The decision to treat Foxx's character in such a stereotypical manner is not just offensive, it's symbolic of the filmmakers' ignorance: Given Tom Cruise, they would have killed him off halfway through the film instead of Anthony Edwards. Needless to say, without any real swagger or derring-do on display - and a denouement that raises hoots of mocking laughter from the audience - this is hardly Top Gun.

Almost apocalyptic in its stupidity, Stealth would have us believe that Navy fighter pilots can rampage through foreign countries destroying enemy combatants at will, with nary a repercussion to show for it. By the end of this film, the principals have been responsible for such a wide swath of destruction that even the densest of viewers is quite aware that the United States would have been at war with Myanmar, Tajikistan, Russia, and North Korea. But it is summer, and if Cohen had been able to put together the merest semblance of recognizable human drama, or at least find a coherent way to string his explosions and too-fake-looking flight scenes together, it would have ended up as just another action blockbuster - risible, but entertaining on a reptilian level. But this is filmmaking at a sub-Michael Bay level. There's not even a ghost in this machine.

Yeah, no one will spot these guys.

Cast & Crew

Director :

Producer : , , Neal H. Moritz,


Comments

Stealth Rating

" Terrible "

Rating: PG-13, 2005

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