Starring: Josh Lucas, Jessica Biel, Jamie Foxx, Sam Shepard, Richard Roxburgh
Director: Rob Cohen
ALSO! Check out where it ranked in our 2005 Year in Review.
Riding in on the coattails of director Michael Bay's sci-fi action thriller "The Island" comes wannabe-action-director Rob Cohen's "Stealth," though Cohen's version of a summer action blockbuster is a little different. Where Bay’s latest film delivers some smarts with its bangs, Cohen completely ignores the prerequisite of any kind of plot at all. And while the film is structured like any other action movie you’ve ever seen, there’s nothing extraordinary about its execution that screams for attention. In fact, the only screams you’ll hear are from Jamie Foxx, most likely still in complete horror as to why he signed on only weeks before “Ray” ignited with Oscar buzz.
The film itself starts out a bit weak, with a written introduction that states the various actions being taken against present-day terrorists. Their newest program involves an elite stealth pilot group that handles top secret “search and destroy” missions against international terrorist cells. Accepting only three pilots out of the hundreds of applicants, the final group consists of Lt. Ben Gannon (Josh Lucas), Henry Purcell (Foxx), and Kara Wade (Jessica Biel). Huh. What a tremendous coincidence that the film calls for a white pilot, a black pilot, and a female pilot all in one nicely structured super team. Someone over at the monthly quotas office has to be sleeping soundly tonight.
Working under the command of Capt. George Cummings (Sam Shepard), the trio is promptly introduced to their newest member of the team, Eddie, a brand-spanking-new stealth fighter known as a UCAV (Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle) that is designed to eventually replace human soldiers. After the three pilots take Eddie out for a test run, where it is programmed to simply watch and learn, the UCAV is struck by a chain of lightning and its system core is significantly damaged, causing the machine to go AWOL with a set of new targets that could start a World War.
The first twenty minutes of “Stealth” are actually quite enjoyable, with amazing jet fighting sequences that rival those of “Top Gun.” Unfortunately, the paper-thin chain of events that could be called a plot turn our heroes away from playing around in the sky, and the film quickly goes from “Flight of the Navigator” meets “The Fast and the Furious” to a watered-down version of “Behind Enemy Lines.” What’s worse is that Foxx is given very little to do in the film, playing the third wheel to the love story between its two other stars, but he’s entertaining nonetheless as the carefree Purcell. It was also nice to see Josh Lucas in a lead role, especially in front of the award-winning Foxx, but his talents are wasted in exchange for flashy visuals and a talking stealth fighter; Knight Rider with wings anyone?
The film could have worked perfectly as a commentary against technology, but Cohen is having far too much fun with his toy jets to even acknowledge the possibility. Despite the thoroughly enjoyable underground hit “The Fast and the Furious,” Cohen is a second-rate Bay at best, and his only intention seems to be blowing things up just for the fun of it. “Stealth” is your classic summer action blockbuster, and that should be reason enough to skip this one.
How a two-disc Special Edition release of "Stealth" was produced is beyond me, but it's out there for anyone dumb enough to pick it up. Along with a widescreen presentation of the film, disc one also houses a 23-minute music featurette and previews for a handful of upcoming films. The second disc features a 75-minute behind-the-scenes documentary, two multi-angle scene deconstructions, and a storyboard-to-film feature on one of the film's biggest scenes. It's also interesting to note that the disc includes available subtitles in French, Chinese, Korean, and Thai. Unfortunately, "Stealtho" isn't available in Spanish.