Friday, October 12, 2012


The trailers for Stealth looked pretty cool. It was like Top Gun meets Goliath (a novel by Steve Alten about a nuclear sub controlled by A.I. that gains self consciousness) and the action scenes looked pretty damned sweet. It had a great cast (and Jessica Biel in a bikini) and Rob Cohen is a decent director, so I decided to check it out.

The plot is that (according to a brief prologue that flashes on and off the screen way too quickly to read thoroughly) in the near future the Navy will create super planes that will be able to take out targets over great distances with advanced weaponry. Out of 400 possible candidates that applied to pilot these planes, only 3 were chosen. But even though these are the best of the best, that doesn't mean that they are invincible. These pilots are chosen to help test an experimental plane that doesn't need a pilot since it's controlled by an artificial intelligence called E.D.I. A lightning strike rewires the A.I. and it gains self consciousness, deciding to ignore its orders and choose targets of its own. It's up to the three pilots to take it out before it kills thousands of people.
The end result is a mixed bag. The first hour of the movie is tedious, boring and light on characterization and plot. We are quickly introduced to the three hot shot pilots, Ben Gannon (Josh Lucas), Kara Wade (Jessica Biel) and Henry Purcell (Jamie Foxx), and they aren't all that interesting. Henry is a playa who hooks up with the first woman he sees wherever they go (while in Thailand he sees a hot Thai girl on some steps and pretty much abducts her, and she sticks around him for no reason at all since they don't even speak the same language), Ben is in love with Kara but doesn't act on it due to the Naval regulations about dating officers, and Kara is a lonely outcast girl who has the hots for Ben as well. They talk a lot without saying much at all, and you can pretty much get what their characters are like from the trailer. We are just as quickly introduced to E.D.I. (pronounced Eddie), the A.I. plane. It talks in a monotone voice (and sounds just like H.A.L. from 2001) and outmaneuvers the pilots whenever they go out on a mission just to show off.

Then BAM! The three pilots go to Thailand. Why? Couldn’t tell you, they just do. They drop whatever they are doing and go there so we can see Jamie Foxx pretty much rape a girl he met on the street, the delicious Jessica Biel in a bikini and mucho flirting between her and Josh Lucas.
Then BAM! Back to the sky again with good ol' E.D.I. who gets struck by lightning while on a night run, becomes sentient, downloads every mp3 he can find on the internet (he has a soft spot for Incubus, so I guess A.I.s have zero taste) and decides to take out some random targets for the hell of it (after bombing a building 9/11 style and destroying a cache of nuclear missiles that end up spewing toxic fumes over a village, thereby killing everyone there).

This is where the film picks up steam. The last half of the film is non-stop action and FX that rarely slows down. Dogfights, aerial chases through cramped canyons, a great (and violent) chase scene across North Korea and one of the most shocking twists I've seen in a film for quite a while (I won't ruin it for you). The other reason I enjoyed this part of the film so much is that events don't unfold like they seemed to in the trailers. We were shown fast clips of action, not the parts they play in the film. Plus the re-fueling blimp scene is truly a sight to behold, especially since parts of it are filmed like Jaws in an inspired move by Cohen.
There's a subplot about the pilot's commanding officer (Sam Sheppard) being a total dick that detracts from the total coolness factor of the action scenes, and the finale is a little weak and predictable (but the film's final line of dialogue is hysterical in an eye rolling sort of way), but it's a fun little film that shouldn't be watched for the sake of art. It's all about the action and explosions.

It's not exactly what I'd call a good movie. If you like to see things blow up real good and get a few chuckles in the process and are willing to sit through an hour of crap to get to all that, then by all means enjoy. If you keep your expectations pretty low, you'll most likely get a few thrills out of it.

A guilty pleasure.

2 out of 5

*written 7/29/05

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