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Bombs away: Stealth crashes at takeoff

by Glen Baity

Remember those CD compilations that used to be advertised on late night TV? Precursors to the ‘“Now That’s What I Call Music’” series, they had hilarious titles like ‘“Rockin’ U.S.A.,’” and sometimes, if you were really lucky, they even featured guys in Banana Republic khakis playing air guitar along to the song clips scrolling up the screen. At some point towards the end of the commercial, they’d hold up a bulky, ergonomically unsound stack of albums and say ‘I’d have to spend $800 on all these CDs just to get all the great songs you’ll get when you order Rockin’ U.S.A.!’”

Watching Stealth is a little bit like that.

Directed by Rob Cohen, the man who turned international espionage into an extreme sport with 2002’s xXx, Stealth is a sporadically entertaining and completely unoriginal action film that, while by no means good, will certainly save you the trouble of sitting through the entire Iron Eagle series.

Jamie Foxx, Josh Lucas, and Jessica Biel star as a team of the Naval Air Force’s most elite pilots. Being the best of the best (‘ Top Guns,’ if you will), they’re earmarked to help break in the newest in military technology, a sleek unmanned stealth fighter named EDI (that’s pronounced ‘“Eddie,’” though he also answers to ‘“Kitt’” and ‘“Hal 9000’”). I can’t resist pointing out that EDI stands for ‘— and I only wish I were kidding ‘— ‘“Extreme Deep Invader,’” which should give you a fairly accurate idea of the towering intellect at work here.

The brilliance of EDI’s design is its capability to learn by observation, so the photogenic test pilots are brought in to teach EDI how to fly like a real Maverick. In the course of its training, the craft is struck by lightning, goes haywire, and develops a bit of a God complex. Despite the fact that it’s only out on a test run, EDI breaks from the team and goes in search of real targets to invade, in a manner we can only assume could be categorized as ‘extremely deeply.’

It’s hard to know where to begin with Stealth. It’s not offensively bad; it’s not bad in a funny way. It’s just mediocre from start to finish, and there are few parts that aren’t shoplifted from other films. The dogfight scenes would be impressive if they were in an Xbox game (and they practically are), but they’re mundane compared to other special-effects shows from this summer. Sure, there are a few tense moments during which it is remotely possible that you might be sort of entertained, but my standards haven’t plummeted to that depth just yet. It seems absurd to even mention the characters, who might seem familiar because you’ve seen them a million times each. There’s the goody-two-shoes bookworm (Biel), the rebel with authority issues who secretly loves her (Lucas), and the skirt-chasing, sassy sidekick (Foxx). There’s even the loveably gruff authority figure (Sam Shepard) who never seems to mind that most of his orders are completely ignored.

The few good actors (Foxx, Shepard) are wasted on these one-note roles, which is the least surprising part of this thoroughly unsurprising movie. It’s completely generic, but it’s so unabashedly idiotic you can’t even get angry at it. This might qualify it as the most ‘blah’ movie of the summer, but at least its title is apt ‘– Stealth is so forgettable it’s almost invisible.

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