Stealth

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...a tale told by an idiot full of sound and fury, signifying nothing...

William Shakespeare, The Scottish Play

Stealth had some impeccable B-Movie credentials behind the camera. Screenwriter W. D. Richter was responsible for writing directing The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eighth Dimension and writing John Carpenter‘s Big Trouble in Little China. Director Rod Cohen helmed the noisily successful The Fast and the Furious and xXx.

The talent in front of cameras wasn’t exactly known for perpetrating schlock. Aside from Oscar-winner Jamie Foxx and actor/playwright Sam Shepard, you have the always solid Joe Morton. Josh Lucas and Jessica Biel each have their share of respectable acting credits, as well.

So how did Stealth make such a huge blip on my suck radar?

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Despite what you might have heard, this movie is not completely brainless, at least not for its first sixty minutes, but it is mostly pointless. For all its shiny surface and near-flawless special effects, Stealth exists mostly to make stuff blow up and give technology junkies a hard-on.

Lucas, Foxx and Biel are hotshot Navy pilots assigned to a super-secret Navy aircraft project, although it’s not so secret that they can’t hit the local nightclubs or talk openly about it in front of a foreign national in Thailand! Sheesh.

Anyway, after completing trials their commanding officer (Shepard) assigns them to an aircraft carrier in the Pacific. There is, however, another piece to the program: an unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV) called the Extreme Deep Invader (a dazzlingly stupid name cooked up so they could call it “Eddie” for short). This super intelligent computerized warplane gets zapped with lightning while returning from its first mission and starts having authority issues. Now in real life, an experimental plane that just got a few million volts up the wazoo would be taken back to Nevada and given the once over. In the movies, however, they go right back into action and people are actually surprised when Eddie heads off on its own to blast a piece of Russia off the map.

Now, hardcore Star Trek fans will recognize this skeleton of a plot from the original series episode called “The Ultimate Computer.” This movie lacks both William Shatner and the intelligence of that episode, while adding better effects, more explosions, a concept stolen from WarGames and an extra hour of running time.

It’s that extra hour that causes most of this movie’s problems. Before the halfway mark, Stealth masquerades as a decent if unoriginal high-tech thriller. Almost exactly one-hour into it, however, it’s like someone switched your television over from the DVD player to your XBox. The second half is less like a movie than an empty montage of Top Gun outtakes.

There is a subplot about Jessica Biel getting shot down over North Korea that doesn’t add much, as well as a conspiracy toward the end that comes completely out of left field and serves no purpose other than to justify another fifteen minutes of running and shooting.

Being shot partially onboard the very real U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln, this film required considerable cooperation from the Navy. I can’t imagine why the Pentagon would want any part of this empty bag of noisy wind, unless the decision was made by a bunch of horny sailors who wanted to spend time with Jessica Biel. After seeing the shore leave scene with her in a bikini, who can blame them? Those shots are about the only truly stimulating things in this movie.

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