Every once and a while Hollywood seems compelled to release a movie wherein man builds machine and all is well at first, but then machine takes over and now endowed with a mind of its own, reeks havoc. Such was the case with 2001 a Space Odyssey (1968), War Games (1983), Short Circuit (1986), and I Robot (2005). The theme is pretty much the same, but the setting changes. This time the setting is the U.S. Navy, an aircraft carrier, and fighter/ attack squadron commanded by a megalomaniac.
Directed by Rob Cohen (The Fast and the Furious, Daylight, XXX), Stealth is a movie in search of a solid, creditable plot. A squadron of three brand new stealth fighters called Talons flown by the best of the best of the U.S. Navy is joined by a computer controlled stealth fighter called an EDI. The EDIs computer generated voice sounds very much like Hal 9000 from the aforementioned 2001. While the EDI begins life acting like a team player, albeit with a personality all its own; it is struck by lighting returning from a mission and soon takes on a mind of its own, downloading every song on the Internet and deciding to bomb unauthorized targets all over Asia.
Meanwhile its all too human squadron-mates led by Lieutenant (Lt.) Ben Gannon portrayed by Josh Lucas (A Beautiful Mind, Hulk, An Unfinished Life), Lt. Kara Wade, portrayed by Jessica Biel (Cellular, Blade: Trinity, Family Guy) and Lt. Henry Purcell, portrayed by Jamie Foxx (In Living Color, Ali, Ray), try desperately to stop the EDI from starting a world war. A feat made all the more complicated by the squadron commander Captain George Cummings portrayed by Sam Shepard (Steel Magnolias, The Pelican Brief, Black Hawk Down), undermines the entire operation by his very un-officer like behavior.
Technology-savvy Stealth is woefully lacking in a creditable plotline and the human interaction that make even the most testosterone driven action movie somewhat palatable.
Yes, there is the superficial, stereotypical, and meaningless coupling of Lt. Purcell, and the unexplored love between Lts Wade and Gannon. But this is just surface fluff with little substance.
But the special effects are what make Stealth worth watching on a rainy weekend afternoon. The flying sequences in Stealth are spectacular; it is apparent that Cohen and crew spend the lions share of their budget on mind-blowing special effects. The planes of Stealth are based on modern design queues with their smooth design, advance avionics, and internal weapons complement. The mach 6 speed however, is a little far fetched, not even the famed SR-71 Blackbird, with its massive engines, reached that speed.
Stealth is also riddled with none-too-subtle factual and geographical mistakes. First of all, the aircraft carrier keeps changing; early in the movie the trio is assigned to the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72), but subsequent scenes show both the U.S.S. Nimitz (CVN-68) and the U.S.S. Carl Vinson (CVN-70). An aircraft carriers hull number is painted in big white numbers on the leading edge of her flight deck and on either side of the island superstructure.
Second, the refueling booms of KC-135 tankers, or of that flying airship depicted in Stealth have a cone on the end for several reasons, one being stability; another is to help guide the refueling probe from the plane into the receptacle. When the EDI shot off the cone the boom would have whip around violentlymuch like an unmanned fire hose does when fully pressurized. That sort of whipping action would have made it impossible for the EDI to refuel. Also, the inside of the cone are fitted with projections that interact on the aircraft probe valve system, which in turn allow the passage of fuel. And how is the United States can station of these massive refueling platforms over hostile foreign airspace?
Third, there are glaring and unforgivable errors in geography. From the missions run (Burma) and the fact that the trio took shore leave in Thailand, one can only assume that the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) is cruising somewhere in the Indian Ocean. One mission had the squadron fly into Tajikstan, which is on (Northern) border of Pakistan and (Western) border of China. This is where the EDI decided to go on its own into Russia to the north. The trio gave chase entering in to Russian airspace. Even a cursory look at a map of Asia will reveal that the nearest friendly base is in Turkey across the Caspian Sea to the west.
How then did Wade's Talon 2 end up breaking up over break up over North Korea, which is some 3,000 miles away? To get there the plane would have to cross 3000 miles of Russian air space without bring detected. Even if the plane had managed such a feat, it would not have had the fuel to make it. And then there is China which covers the entire of Central Asia; Talon 2 would have had to have flown North East to avoid the country. Why not fly back to the carriersouthor west to Turkey? Dramatic license of course, but it didnt make much sense. And then there is Bens Talon 1, which crash landed in Alaska; huh? There are more factual mistakes in the movie, but these are the most glaring.
Stealth is a special effect wet dream, but that is not enough to recommend the movie. On an emotional level the movie is a total failure; the human characters are about as interesting and engaging as the EDI, although Ms. Biel looks stunning in a flight suit.
Stealth had the makings of a top notch dramatic thriller; its shame the producers didnt do their homework and lend some creditability to the gee-whiz special effects, it would have made for a much, much better movie.
Principle Actors: Josh Lucas, Jessica Biel, Jamie Foxx, Joe Morton, Sam Shepard, Richard Roxburgh,
Director: Rob Cohen
Format: AC-3, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, Full Screen, Subtitled, NTSC
Region: Region (1) encoding
Number of Discs: (1)
Studio: Sony Pictures
DVD Release Date: November 15, 2005
Run Time: 121 Minutes
o Available Subtitles: English, French, Chinese, Korean, Thai
o Three part filmmaker's diary featurette "Harnessing Speed"
o Interactive scene deconstructions of two action scenes
o Multi-angle scene breakdowns of 2 scenes
o The short featurette "The Music of Stealth"
o A music video
Viewing Format: DVD
Video Occasion: Good for a Rainy Day
Suitability For Children: Suitable for Children Age 9 - 12
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