The days of the “good” bad movie are long over, and Stealth serves as a powerful punch to the stomach to remind us of that. This is a film that is decked out with all the trimmings and should have enshrined itself as an eternal laugher for college kids who are stuck with a grocery cart full of 40’s. But alas, director Rob Cohen and his team of computer minions have dished out one of the most punishing, insulting, and flat-out horrid films of the year. After the comedic, but watchable, Fast and the Furious and the disastrous xXx, Cohen has turned in his true disasterpiece with Stealth.
You see Cohen kind of flies under the radar as a protégé of Michael Bay, who, coincidentally, recently showed some maturity with The Island. But, no one saw it. And I have a feeling crowds will flock to this dud. Cohen is at the forefront of a movement to turn all movies into glorified video games. Many people confuse this with pizazz and sleekness, but not I. This is sloppy action film making at its worst. Using quick cuts and close-ups, Cohen simply does a passable job of covering his shoddy special effects, which, when you get right down to it, shouldn’t be so shoddy with a $130 million budget. And all of those shoddy special effects are there to cover up an incompetent story. The dominoes continue to fall from there.
The papier-mâché story concerns Gannon (Lucas), Wade (Biel), Purcell (Foxx) and their new wingman, Eddie. Developed in the deepest trenches of the U.S. military, Eddie is a stealth UCAV (Unmanned Combat Assault Vehicle) which literally has a mind of its own. The craft speaks in a monotone computer voice, but the idea is that it can compute the best decisions and routes during bombing runs, which of course exist to eradicate masked, nameless Arabs, as the movie would have it. But, in an event eerily similar to that of 1986’s Chopping Mall, the craft is struck by lightning and flies off the handle. It is hell-bent on disobeying orders and starting World War III. And, oh yeah, the film detours completely for about fifteen minutes just to show Jessica Biel in a bikini.
Instead of having any fun with this whatsoever, Cohen and his apostles take the “real world” route and seem to try and sell this idea to us. Considering that the film runs an eternal two hours and is littered with wasted and pointless scenes, it is quite clear that W.D. Richter’s script was rewritten and then written some more until some big wig finally threw in the towel. Gannon barks orders at the UCAV with such seriousness that one’s only response is to laugh. I’m no pilot, but if you were forced to eject from your plane and then discover that your parachute is on fire, would you still be calmly describing each minute detail to Pentagon Headquarters through your headset? I’d be screaming for dear life and hoping I don’t land on Jamie Foxx’s career.
This brings me to the performances. Considering that none of these characters is written beyond the “he’s a prick, she’s hot, and he’s a ladies man” template, no discernible acting is necessary. This does not bode well for Jamie Foxx, and makes his decision to take the role all the more mind-boggling. While Stealth was filmed before Ray, this is still an embarrassment of considerable proportions. This is the kind of stuff that lands you back on the WB or in Booty Call 2, and I know he doesn’t want that. He takes the high road in the film, however, and if in some drunken stupor you decide to pay $9 to see this craptastic film, you’ll see what I mean. Jessica Biel and Josh Lucas are similarly wasted in ludicrous roles, but I do applaud Lucas for somehow keeping a straight face throughout this entire project. Quality character actors Sam Shepard and Joe Morton are given thankless roles as government brains.
Stealth is the type of pretentious waste of celluloid that somehow still gets funding by major studios. Anyone with a Playstation 2, surround sound, and an aerial combat game can duplicate, if not surpass, this dismal display. I’d be going into “stealth” mode if I was in any way, shape, or form involved with this project. Then again, those individuals may be doing so involuntarily.
Studio: Columbia Pictures
Length: 121 Minutes
Rating: PG-13 for intense action, some violence, brief strong language and innuendo.
Theatrical Release: July 29, 2005
Directed by: Rob Cohen
Written by: W.D. Richter
Cast: Josh Lucas, Jessica Biel, Jamie Foxx, Sam Shepard, Richard Roxburgh, Joe Morton