Stealth

Dumb fun---NOW with half the fun!
★★
☆☆☆
Released: 
2005
Director: 
Rob Cohen
Starring: 
Josh Lucas, Jessica Biel, Jamie Foxx, Sam Shepard
The Setup: 
Three ace Navy pilots are worried about being replaced by an artificially-intelligent jet controlled by a fancy bowling ball that goes haywire after getting struck by lightning.
Discussion: 

I had heard that this was pretty laughably bad, and once I heard that the plane actually TALKS, my interest in this was piqued. It is quite laughably bad and ridiculous, but it's laughably bad and ridiculous in pretty much the same way throughout, and eventually it just gets to be wearying. It would be impossible to count the number of shots that feature a digitally-enhanced zoom-in from a jet in the distance to the pilot in its cockpit.

Poor human plastic sex dolls Josh Lucas and Jessica Biel attempt to cash in on their short career windows by playing jet pilots who are supposedly the best in the business. Jamie Foxx plays the token black pilot who is always giving thematic shout-outs to the hip-hop crowd, especially in a ludicrous and embarrassing scene in which he strips down in his underwear, dances to an amped-up remix of Sly's "Dance to the Music," and points a desk lamp at himself while pretending to be besieged by paparazzi. There is a great deal of discussion and attention paid to the sexual prowess of the black male, not least when the trio are introduced to the talking airplane, called EDI, which stands for "Extreme Deep Intruder." Foxx says: "Yeah, I been called that a few times." Later Foxx picks up a Thai hottie who understands no English, but apparently knows all about long black cock, and she just smiles at all Foxx's banter and moves in for a kiss. I'm sorry, how is this NOT racist?

The entire movie is ridiculously sexualized in a really dumb way. The three pilots' suits are quite clingily snug, and I actually think at least Lucas' was padded, as in reality it's quite difficult to get one's chest and abs to bulge out through material that thick. Biel is required, at the end, to crawl through North Korean muck with her ass up in the air, Catherine Zeta-Jones in Entrapment-like, while wearing her ridiculously clingy flight suit. And then there's the sexual imagery of the planes themselves, which seemed to me to be all about sperm-no more so than when Lucas shoots a missile directly into a cave, where we see it penetrating deep into the tight, narrow space before hitting the wall and exploding [Oh God-I just came!]. I intentionally timed my bathroom break to the first mention of "Thailand," as I had been warned by several reviews that we're about to be treated to a gratuitous Lucas/Biel waterfall/bikini romp, and I could certainly live without that.

The movie fetishizes the military, and at times looks virtually indistinguishable from those Air National Guard commercials they're showing before movies now. I found it more than a little distasteful to be warmongering to such a degree while there's a real war on, but you know me, I'm a pinko lefty cocksucker. It's all about the precision of the missiles and how the military very cannily uses them to take out "terrorists" and while sparing innocent civilians. It is HILARIOUS the numerous scenes in which Sam Shepard, who plays some military commander, goes from extremely detailed high-tech military jargon to catch-all generalities like "terrorists" and "warlords" in the same sentence. The movie never describes who these people are or what they've done-let alone why they are doing it-they're just "terrorists," and as such it is assumed that everyone agrees they simply must die. So it's pretty much exactly like television news.

Jessica Biel-as the sensitive, caring woman of the group, is the only one concerned with whether innocent civilians will die. Her best line is "Farmers, Ben! They're just farmers!" Earlier, Ben has gone way up to the edge of space because apparently that is the only way he can get an absolutely straight angle which will allow him to destroy a building that "terrorists" are in without killing any civilians. Ben destroys the building, which collapses straight down like the twin towers, and headquarters instantly knows that no civilians have been killed. Pretty amazing-the day I saw this movie an airplane skidded off the runway in Toronto and burnt, and it was hours before anyone knew how many people had or had not died. I guess in the "near future" this problem is cleared up. The other thing is, the building collapsing is SO MUCH LIKE the way the World Trade Center collapsed, the whole thing almost struck me as some kind of American fantasy of reclaiming the whole thing. "See, we can make a building collapse straight down through our American can-do PRECISION, not just by accident like those towelheads do!"

Anyway, so this super-advanced plane with a cheesy-looking bowling ball for a brain was designed with the latest technology, but unfortunately planes getting struck by lightning is so very rare that no one ever thought of the possibility. The lightning rearranges the planes DNA [yes, we SEE the lightning rearranging the plane's DNA, making this the second movie this year, after Fantastic Four, in which inanimate objects have DNA] and the plane gets a mind of its own. The thing is, the plane doesn't exactly turn evil, it just makes an unfortunate decision [innocent civilians again], and vanishes for a while, but it's not really masterminding world domination and mass destruction, which is the shit I paid money to see. The thing is more of a nuisance than anything, not a real threat, and starts having pangs of conscience by the end. And did I mention that its brain looks like a bowling ball? A really stupid bowling ball?

Poor Jessica Biel has to deliver an awful lot of "women are tough guys too" dialogue, and the aforementioned line about "farmers, Ben!" but her lowest moment comes after she has to eject from her plane, which apparently destructs directly above her, raining fiery debris down on her as she descends. Now if this were me, or you, or anyone really, we might be too scared to really say much of anything, but Jessica deems to necessary to narrate her entire trip down for the benefit of the people back on the big ship who probably WANT to see her get burned alive, but couldn't make it for the real thing. Also, you know, there's not a lot of detail to go into when burning shards of jet are falling around you, so Jessica is forced to say things like: "There's burning debris everywhere! The debris is on fire! It's falling all around me! There's burning debris all around me! It's on fire!" This part should maybe be excerpted from the movie and appear on some sort of bad movie gag reel.

Anyway, so toward the end of the movie we start to get our valuable life lessons. The most important is that robots who think for themselves are bad, because they don't have the emotions and can't make the split-second decisions that human's can. BUT a human flying a super-advanced machine, now THAT is awesome. THAT'S really the best thing. And we have some super advanced technology in the Navy even today. Why don't you step right over to this recruiting table and give us a little information. Oh no, you won't be committed to anything, we're just gathering a little information.

I was surprised that, after all the generally right-wing politics and this movie's view of the world as divided among glorious Americans doing the work of God, evil darkie terrorists, and innocent farmers, just farmers, and after all the excitement over war and weapons, that when we finally get a glimpse of the big, powerful bad guy pulling the strings behind all of this, he looks remarkably like KARL ROVE! And, just like Karl Rove, he engineered the whole situation and is making someone else take the fall for it. What the hell are they saying here in this movie? I don't know, but I have the feeling they aren't saying really much of anything.

Should you watch it: 

No, it isn't nearly as fun-bad as it should be.