Stealth (2005) / Action-Sci Fi
MPAA Rated: PG-13 for violence, language, and innuendo
Running Time: 121 min.
Cast: Josh Lucas, Jessica Biel, Sam Shepard, Jamie Foxx, Joe Morton, Richard Roxburgh
Director: Rob Cohen
Screenplay: W.D. Richter
Review published August 3, 2005
There's probably no other film in 2005 that I laughed during more than Stealth. Unfortunately, it isn't a comedy. it's the latest dumb popcorn movie from ridiculous physics "genius" Rob Cohen, crafter of the equally implausible xXx and The Fast and the Furious. Basically, it's an excuse to blow things up real good, in between bad scenes of soap opera romance and shallow military intrigue. It's also the kind of movie I might have written when I was about 14 years old, back before I had a a wide-eyed view of how advanced military technology and artificial intelligence had become. Still, a film as long and poorly lit as Stealth would still have bored the hell out of me when I was 14, so I am thankful that I am older, wiser, and able to properly laugh at how ludicrous Stealth is in almost every facet of its plot.
Most of the action revolves around a trio of elite Navy pilots, Lt. Ben Gannon (Lucas, Undertow), Kara Wade (Biel, Blade: Trinity), and Henry Purcell (Foxx, Ray), who regularly fly covert operations into the most dangerous of places in their stealth fighters for tactical anti-terrorist warfare that most of the world isn't aware of. They soon get a fourth member of their unit in the form of EDI (pronounced Eddie), a man-less stealth fighter that is operated by a highly sophisticated artificial intelligence unit developed by the leading mind in the industry. With the advent of EDI, it now becomes possible to conduct aerial strikes without fear of ever losing a soldier, and since it is artificial, no longer will it be subject to many errors in judgment, inability to fly at speeds too high, and maneuvers that would nauseate most human flyers. However, a fluke causes EDI to go renegade, and soon what were once military exercises in its game strategy it perceives as real. Worried Navy Captain Cummings (Shepard, Swordfish) doesn't want to expose this top secret plane to the world, so it's up to the three stealth pilots to try to get the plane back safely before it ends up starting a war.
Big laugh -- EDI stands for Extreme Deep Invader. Add sex toy product joke here.
Big laugh -- EDI has a voice and a personality, and that is of Hal, the other artificial intelligence gone berserk in the Stanley Kubrick masterpiece, 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Big laugh -- EDI seems to like downloading music from the internet, and in fact, has downloaded every song available. It also likes to fire up a kick-ass rock tune before it heads on any dangerous missions.
Big laugh -- Gannon will do anything to save one soldier, claiming "a pliot never deserts his wing man". In order to save one pilot, he has no problem killing several other innocent Navy men that have no clue as to what is going on.
Big laugh -- At over two hours in length, Stealth is padded to excess with needless scenes, the most blatantly useless being a trip to Thailand where we are treated to "character developing" scenes of Biel and Lucas frolicking under a waterfall in skin tight swimwear.
Big laugh -- Apparently decimating the entire southern border of North Korea, along with several troops and armored vehicles, is fine as long as it's part of a reconnaissance mission. The United States' sworn enemy won't view any of this as an act of war.
Big laugh -- A final scene after the end credits that I can't spoil, even though the two hours that precedes it doesn't merit one last insult.
There are probably more big laughs in Stealth, but I was too busy laughing at all of the bad dialogue, horrible direction, and overblown confrontations to catch them all. The funniest thing about the movie is how very little of it is done in tongue-in-cheek fashion, as if the creators of it actually think we'd buy such a preposterous premise and ridiculously boneheaded view on military procedure and world politics. This is brainless Hollywood at its absolute dumbest, of appeal only to people that would rather watch nonstop explosions for two hours without the complication of having to think. "Stealth" is the name for a vehicle that flies with nary a blip on the radar -- it apparently is also what we title the movie that won't register a difference in brain activity when monitoring members of the viewing audience.
©2005 Vince Leo