Reviewed by: Brett Willis
|Featuring:||Josh Lucas, Jessica Biel, Jamie Foxx, Joe Morton, Richard Roxburgh|
|Producer:||Mike Medavoy, Laura Ziskin, Neal H Moritz|
Fear the sky.
This newest offering from Rob Cohen is basically mindless adrenaline-food. It combines the hotshot-Navy-fighter-pilot theme from “Top Gun” with the Artificial-Intelligence-gone-awry theme found in several Sci-Fi films.
In the near future, the firepower and Stealth technology of the Navy’s Talon fighter-bomber are used against terrorists anywhere and everywhere in the world. There are only three pilots in the Talon program: Ben Gannon (Josh Lucas), Kara Wade (Jessica Biel) and Henry Purcell (Jamie Foxx). But after a grabber-opener attack sequence (which turns out to be just a training exercise), the program’s commander, Capt. George Cummings (Sam Shepard), tells the team that they’re getting a fourth member. What’s up with that, the pilots wonder aloud. There aren’t any other Talon aircraft in the world.
Well, another Stealth aircraft soon lands in their midst, and it’s similar to, but distinct from, the Talon. It can do vertical takeoff and landing. But most notably, it has no pilot. It’s a UCAV (Unmanned Aerial Combat Vehicle) run by an intelligent “learning computer” Oh, sure, nothing will go wrong. Can anyone say “Colossus” or “The Terminator”? The UCAV is also referred to as an EDI (Extreme Deep Invader), which supplies its nickname of “Eddie.”
In a live attack mission, Ben disobeys a direct order and uses a dangerous fast-diving technique to insert an implosion bomb into a building. Eddie observes and learns from the disobedience. Then, when Eddie is hit by lightning, his neural circuits declare their independence from all human control. Eddie attempts to carry out rogue missions, including some that are just wargames in a computer. So, the Talon pilots may be forced to shoot down their robotic “wingman.” And Capt. Cummings would like to get Eddie back, but not be saddled with any human witnesses of what went wrong.
The action sequences (much of which are Computer Generated Animation) come fast and thick, while character development of the human pilots is minimal. We know that they’re all committed to each other as comrades, that the two men use their Navy dress uniforms to pick up women, that Ben and Kara have an unstated romance going, and that’s about the extent of it. Since the heroes aren’t fully developed, the normal plotline of the heroes overcoming obstacles and reaching a goal isn’t standard formula either. The idea is there, but it’s approached in an unusual way.
Violence: There’s a wealth of explosions, a lot of combat and many deaths. Most of those killed are innocents. Those who were in the line of fire. Those in the way of a nuclear cloud. Those who are (properly) defending themselves against the U.S.’ pilots attacking them without good reason, or are hunting for a downed U.S. pilot who secretly parachuted into their country. Even in the final rescue sequence, the “hero” kills a lot of people who were just doing their job.
Profanity: There’s one use of f* and a couple of uses of each of the other common profanities. Offensive and annoying, but pretty light for a military film.
Sex and Nudity: This isn’t the emphasis of this film. We do, however, (1) see Ben and Henry pick up women in a bar, and Henry ogle a woman’s cleavage; (2) see Ben and Kara in swimsuits (Kara’s suit is very brief, and she gives Ben “the finger” with both hands as he snaps her picture); (3) hear all three pilots talk and joke about sexual matters such as correct etiquette after spending a one-nighter with someone.
Conclusion: The acting is good, and the production values are high. But there’s no substance to the characters, and there’s also something else missing from the story although I can’t put my finger on exactly what it is. And since even the good guys have serious flaws, there’s little or nothing in the way of redemptive value here. “Stealth” isn’t as offensive as a lot of films, but it just isn’t a good movie.
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.